Mystery solved: Bill Collins diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome

Bill Collins had symptoms at Sacramento nationals last year and was hospitalized this year. Now we know why. Doctors have diagnosed Bill, our superstar sprinter, with Guillain-Barre syndrome, according to a note sent by his wife, Stephanie. She wrote some friends: “Bill has been sick and has been hospitalized, but he’s doing much better now. Bill’s been sick since Memorial Day and as of this past Thursday, the doctors finally diagnosed his illness to be Guillain-Barre syndrome. … It’s unknown what triggers it and it can occur at any age. The symptoms can get worse very quickly and if remained untreated, one can become paralyzed.”

Bill edges me (blurred at left) in 200 prelims at 2010 Sacramento nationals.

Stephanie continued her note:

Some of the symptoms are tingling in feet/hands, starts effecting the respiratory system, your nervous system is effected.

In Bill’s case, his weakness occurred over a couple of weeks, the tingling sensation started in his feet, then to his hands, then he started walking with a dragged gait pattern and he couldn’t rise up on his toes. Some of the examinations showed that his reflexes decreased or were not there, like in the knee jerk and when they touched the bottom of his feet, his feet didn’t move. That truly was hard to watch, I just prayed that he didn’t come in too late.

The therapy the neurologists decided on is called “immunoglobulin therapy,” which blocks the antibodies that cause inflammation and I’m happy to say it’s working!! His tingling is gone, he’s walking so much better and he’s almost back to his normal weight.
I truly believe had he not been in such great shape……this would have hit him hard, and he wouldn’t be recovering so fast.

The doctor said he could be home by Sunday, so we’re going to have a really nice 4th of July.

We are truly blessed to have such wonderful friends. Thank You so much for all your concerns. Thank you for your prayers!

Anyone have any experience with this disease? Have any masters athletes come back from this?

Let’s run in Bill’s honor at Sacramento.

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July 2, 2011

38 Responses

  1. Nolan Shaheed - July 2, 2011

    Get well quickly Bill. We love you and we miss you.

  2. peter taylor - July 2, 2011

    Bill is the man, and we can all cheer for him in our hearts when he gets back home. He has had a lot of setbacks over the years, but he always comes back (who can forget his terrible injury at Greensboro nationals in 1996?).

    See you soon, Bill.


  3. kevin f - July 2, 2011

    Wishing you a speedy recovery

  4. Khalid and Jamie - July 2, 2011

    Glad to see you are recovering Bill.

  5. Francois Boda - July 2, 2011

    Best wishes Bill.

  6. Aaron Thigpen - July 2, 2011

    Speedy recovery to a legend and role model. I wish you the best Bill.

  7. James Chinn - July 2, 2011

    My thoughts and prayers are with you Bill, looking forward to seeing you back on the track.

  8. Kenneth Effler - July 2, 2011

    Bill-best wishes for a quick and full recovery. Last summer my son developed Guillain-Barre and he went through the plasmaphersis treatment. When he was admitted he could barely stand up and his breathing started to falter. After 3 of the plasmaphersis treatments, he was able to leave the hospital 10 days later, and recovered fully by the end of the summer.

    Looking forward to seeing you on the track again soon.

  9. Don Young - July 2, 2011

    Best wishes and a speedy recovery.

  10. Kettrell Berry - July 2, 2011

    Sir William Collins you are a Man of Honor and Respect to so many of us. You are in my prayers Mr. Collins.

  11. lez - July 2, 2011

    God speed,to a true legend of track/field.

  12. Ken Stone - July 3, 2011

    I’ve also just learned that one of Bill’s arch rivals — Dr. Stephen Peters of Great Britain — is out of worlds as well. A friend writes: “Steve is a very private guy, but I understand he is ill with some form of joint condition requiring regular injections.” Get well, too, Steve!

  13. Bubba Sparks - July 3, 2011

    Bill collins was one of my heros when I was in high school and then in college. Tremendous man and athlete. All our love and prayers to you Bill!!

  14. Kay Glynn - July 3, 2011

    Bill–Being the true champion athlete that you are, I am sure you will attack this illness with the dedication, determination, intelligence, and patience that has made you a champ! Good luck with your recovery!

  15. Karla Del Grande - July 3, 2011

    Bill is an inspiration and loved by all. He is truly a champion. Kay said it so well — he’ll be recovering with “dedication, determination, intelligence, and patience.” And of course, with the prayers and thoughts of many.

  16. Matthew - July 3, 2011

    I’ve done rehab with a few GB patients. In general, the last thing to come back is ability to walk on heels. You can’t rush or force a comeback because you can ‘exhaust’ your nerves.

  17. Kathy Bergen - July 3, 2011

    It is always a joy to watch you run. I want to do it for many more years.

    You will be in my prayers. Get well soon.

  18. wayne bennett - July 3, 2011

    Bill, you have always been such an inspiration to so many, including me. I know that with the prayers of so many that you will defeat this foe the same way you have defeated so many on the track. Look forward to seeing you on the track soon. Thanks be to God for the physicians who correctly diagnosed this problem early.

  19. Leo Sanders - July 3, 2011

    Best wishes Bill. You’re in my prayers.

  20. Milan Jamrich - July 3, 2011

    Houston is a good place to be if you have a problem like this. Good luck!

  21. Linda Carty - July 3, 2011

    Bill, wishing a speedy recovery to a hero. Thanks for the updates Stephanie.

  22. Brenda Matthews - July 4, 2011

    Bill your are in my prayers for a speedy recovery.

  23. Marty Krulee - July 4, 2011

    Bill you are the Man and Athlete we all aspire to be. I know that you will recover from this and continue to show us what is possible to achieve.
    We in the Krulee home are thinking about you.

  24. Greg Schwab - July 4, 2011

    Wishing you the BEST my friend!!

  25. Sam Hooper - July 4, 2011


    You were a major inspiration for me, at 62, to start my training after two major operations last year. I truly believe this GB picked on the wong guy. Beat it and get back on the track!

  26. Ed Winslow - July 4, 2011

    Get well soon Bill.

  27. Craig Davis - July 5, 2011

    Bill, it was my honor to meet you during this year’s events. You are the face of Masters Track and this community is 1000% behind you and your family. All of our PRAYERS are with you as you overcome GB !!! GOD BLESS !!!

  28. Bob Walters - July 5, 2011

    Mr. Collins, we’ve only spoken a time or two at National meets. However, you have been an inspriation to me for many years! When I ponder what is possible in Masters sprinting, you and your story immediately pop to the forefront of my mind!

    Your strength of character and faith will position you well for this new challenge! Please know that you have many of us praying for you and looking forward to the day you will be racing again! See you soon!

  29. Richard Holmes - July 5, 2011

    My prayers go out to Bill and his family, for a speedy recovery. His incredible gift will be missed this year in Sacramento.

  30. Rob Norton - July 5, 2011

    God speed, Bill.

  31. Cornell - July 5, 2011

    I trust and pray that your recovery will be complete and thorough. Thanks for being the inspiration that you have been for so many of us.

  32. Tecumseh Peete - July 5, 2011

    My brother I wish you a speedy recovery and I will see you soon.

  33. Rohan Stuart - July 6, 2011

    God is with you my track brother. Best wishes for a steady recoveery.

  34. Lonnie Hooker - July 6, 2011

    You and your family are in my prayers Bill.

  35. Jim Vash - July 7, 2011

    Bill, it was an honor and a pleasure to talk with you at the Penn Relays while we waited to start our relay. You were gracious and encouraging to a new runner who has admiration for what you have accomplished and will accomplish again with God’s help.Bless you and have a full and speedy recovery.

  36. Gilbert Middlebrooks - July 10, 2011

    You have been an inspiration. Your published work out schedule for older runners has been great for me. Here’s to a speedy recovery.

  37. Jeff Barnfield - July 16, 2011

    Hi Bill,I met you at Sydney masters 2009,you blew the other athletes away with your fantastic performances.
    Brought a tear to my eye when I read this latest news.
    Bill I know you have the mental toughness to overcome this illness, our thoughts and prayers are with you for a speedy recovery.

  38. Ocean - March 5, 2012

    I will keep you in my prayers. Glad to know that you are recovering and doing well. I know you can over come this obstacle. Keep the faith and God Bless.

    Ocean…Your hometown Mt.Vernon is routing for you!

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