Alan Hoskins, Supervisor of Public Information
Friday, November 02, 2012
Kenneth Herrington could watch the pain intensify for only so long. Then he had to do something about it.
A student of Don Haussler at both the Leavenworth Center and on the main campus of Kansas City Kansas Community College, Herrington couldn’t help but see the deterioration of Haussler’s left hip steadily get worse and worse over the past 18 months.
“He told me he would probably have to get a wheelchair and that as an adjunct instructor, he had no insurance,” said Herrington, a 33-year-old U.S. Navy veteran from Leavenworth with a double major in chemistry and biology. “After getting to know him and his story, I began wishing there was something I could do to help him.”
And thus was born “Hip for Haussler.” Teaming with another former Haussler student, 22-year-old Megan Hyde of Lansing, the duo enlisted the help of other students in Dr. Clare Vlahos’ Honors III class to do whatever was necessary to get Haussler a hip replacement.
“I was speechless,” said Haussler. “I’m not usually one for loss of words but that stopped me cold. He had kept asking when I was going to get it fixed. The whole thing is just unreal. It’s just unbelievable.”
A couple of fund-raisers have already been held. “Anita DeMoss put together a yard sale in Overland Park,” said Hyde. “Stacy Tucker, the Director of the Honors Program and Phi Theta Kappa, donated 120 bars of candy to sell. On Halloween, a group of dedicated individuals co-hosted a Halloween bash fund-raiser with the Black Student Leaders organization.”
Thanks to the generosity of the College Bookstore and MeMa’s Bakery, a raffle is underway through Nov. 12 on both the Leavenworth and main campuses and students Kyle Oatney and Joel Wilson will hold bake sales each Monday through the month of November.
“One of our first goals is to get Dr. Haussler a new pair of shoes,” says Herrington. “Because one of his legs is shorter than the other, he needs special shoes and those he’s wearing now are falling apart.”
The ultimate goal, however, is to get outside help for the tests and surgery needed to replace Haussler’s failing hip.
“My part in ‘Hip for Haussler’ is the surgery,” says Yvonne Castaneda. “I work at Providence Medical Center as a nursing assistant in the surgical unit and I have been looking at OrthoKC for either an all-paid surgery or partially paid coverage. I am willing to go beyond the semester, no matter how long it takes. “I am with ‘Hip for Haussler’ to the end. Dr. Don Haussler is just plain awesome and I do not say that about just any instructor.”
Haussler said the deterioration of his hip began in the fall of 2002. “I was told I would have to have something done in the next few years,” said Haussler, who had taught full-time at the College since 1997. But then he left that full-time position in the KCKCC math department to take another position in Wisconsin only to have his marriage suddenly and unexpectedly fall apart. When he returned to KCKCC in 2004, there were no full-time openings in math and it wasn’t until 2006 that he was able to return to the college to teach as an adjunct instructor.
Haussler has since remarried but his wife too has gone through some health problems. “Doing all the wonderful things he does for others and keeping a happy disposition while taking care of his ill wife makes him a wonderful person and a great example to us all,” said Joseph Long.
Known on campus as the ‘math lab guy,’ Hyde said Haussler is much beloved by his students because of his willingness “to give all he has to offer and making himself available to anyone who asks, whether it be helping out with math or sitting down with a student and listening to his or her problems.”
“Dr. Haussler is not only a great teacher, tutor and friend but also a great role model to us all,” concludes Hyde. “He’s not had the easiest past couple of years and I feel that it is our obligation as a community to help this man who has already helped so many.”
“A good man with a big heart and he deserves a break,” stresses Herrington. “There are many challenges and in its entirety, this project is somewhat daunting in its scope. Whether or not this project is brought to fruition this semester or not, I will continue to work towards the goal of seeing Dr. Haussler walk again without a cane. This is something he has not been able to do for a long, long time.”