When Denny and Linda Hotchkiss helped a neighbor as she cared for her son it made all the difference

‘I couldn't ask for better neighbors'

MILFORD, Ohio -- Colleen Kinney’s son was critically injured in a car crash in September. She lost her job nine days later. The single mom needed help with her son and wasn't sure what she was going to do.

That’s when Denny and Linda Hotchkiss of Milford stepped up.

Colleen has lived in the same neighborhood as the Hotchkiss family for eight years and said the couple always has been incredible. But it was the series of kind acts after Colleen’s son was injured in the single-car accident that made a world of difference to her.

Colleen’s son spent a month in the Intensive Care Unit at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center after being flown there by medical helicopter from Fayetteville, Ky.

He suffered head injuries, clots and a shattered pelvis and underwent multiple surgeries.

“It was a mess and I’m a single mom,” Colleen said. To make matters worse, Colleen lost her job nine days after the accident and soon found herself overwhelmed thinking of finances.

“In a way it was a good thing because I was (able to be with my son) now but I had all these added worries and agonies because I didn’t have a job,” she said.

Immediately after hearing the news that Colleen’s son was critically injured, Linda and Denny sprang into action, first with a simple thing: taking care of the dogs.

“I came home a few hours after I got to see my son and I told Linda what had happened,” Colleen said. “She said, ‘go take care of what you need to do, don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of the dogs.’”

For three months Linda came to her home and took care of the animals so Colleen could be with her son at the hospital.

When doctor’s told Colleen her son could be cared for at home, she was elated. The doctors said he would be able to walk again eventually but would be restricted to a wheelchair while in recovery.

“I had been out raking leaves in October and I was just overwhelmed because while my son was going to be OK, I had a lot of things to do to make the house more accessible,” Colleen said.

While she was busy in the yard, Denny came over to her home and told her to go inside and relax and he would finish raking the leaves.

Later when Colleen was back outside taking measurements, Denny came over once again and asked her what she was doing. She explained that because her son would be in a wheelchair, a ramp was needed to get her son in and out of the house.

“(Denny) just looked and me and said, ‘I’ll tell you what I'll do. I’ll build this ramp myself and if you can pay me back, that’s great, but it you can’t, don’t worry about it.’”

For a single mom suddenly jobless and now caring for an injured son, Denny’s offer was more than just a nice gesture to Colleen.

“It was just so overwhelming and such a huge relief,” she said.

Colleen’s son was released from the hospital two weeks early. To finish the wheelchair ramp for him Denny worked around the clock for two weekends.

“They are just really awesome people that they were able to do that for us,” Colleen said. “I couldn’t ask for better neighbors. In my opinion they are invaluable. They stepped up when no one else could financially afford to do what they did.”

Colleen’s son continues to heal and with the help from the Hotchkiss family, Colleen has been able to be right by his side.

“I never would have expected all the things they have done for my son and me,” she said.

Do you know someone in the community who is making a difference? We'd like to share their story. Email us their story at WebTeam@WCPO.com .


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