What does hope mean to me?
To me, it can mean something as simple as a hat.  I did not grow up in the happiest of places.  By a matter of chance twenty-seven years ago, I met someone who lived a hundred miles away from me who would write me letters.  For a few years, we exchanged letters until things reached their course.  Those letters gave me hope.  Thanks to them, I knew there was life beyond the walls where I lived and went to school.  
Thanks to that person, I did not run away from home.  I did not end up going to a juvenile facility.  Instead, I stayed the course and toughed it out.  I knew there were people who believed in me and knew I could be someone.  
Life can be rough.  You can suffer setbacks such as divorce or the loss of a loved one to cancer.  You can get injured and suffer the effects for years after.  The one thing you can always keep with you—and don’t ever let someone take it away from you—is hope.
I was going to try and do a movie a few years ago here in Sumner County about that person who first gave me hope.  For several reasons, that obviously did not happen, but the one thing I will always have with me is the hat I chose to have my character wear.  It’s a black and white cap with ‘K Doll Koatings Manufacturing Sandblasting and Painting’ printed on the front.  It was given to me by Gina Doll in Conway Springs.  She has become a good friend and what that hat represents is everything that is important to me.
There is a place just outside Conway Springs that is the most gorgeous I have ever seen.  It is right along the banks of Slate Creek.  For those who follow the page Sumner County Through the Lens, you know pictures of this place pop up a lot.  It’s just a place that I can go and feel at peace.  I can go there and spend a few minutes before I have to go back to the real world.  It rejuvenates me and keeps me in the game. I’ve gone out there alone, but often bring my wife and kids with me whenever time allows. That is a place that gives me hope.
This quote by President Kennedy always gives me hope. “In the scheme of things, our problems are man made.  Therefore, they can be solved by man.  And man can be as big as he wants.  No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.  Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable--and we believe they can do it again.  In the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet.  We all breathe the same air.  We all cherish our children’s future.  And we are all mortal.”
So, as 2017 draws to a close, what does hope mean to you? To me, hope is what keeps me going and traveling down the road.  It means I have miles to go before I sleep.