Hastings resident Earl Mullins has had a passion for model trains almost his entire life, but it's only been in the last five years that he's realized how much the hobby and the people he plays with mean to him.
Mullins, age 73, was diagnosed with the incurable blood disease amyloidosis in 2008 and had a stem cell transplant that put the condition into remission.
Then in summer 2012, Mullins had a bad bout with Minere's disease, a condition of the inner ear that can cause ringing in the ears and vertigo.
While he wasn't able to make it down to his basement to spend time working with his trains during those times, Mullins had the support of his friends, family and fellow train enthusiasts to keep him going.
"I've had this hobby for a long time, probably since I was in junior high," Earl said. "When I grew up, a lot of boys wanted an electric train."