Life is a journey, and wife, mother, photographer, writer, homeschool teacher, and community volunteer, Colleen Bailey, strives each day to immerse herself in that journey. Her journey as a mother of a child born with Down syndrome has led her on a path she perhaps never expected, but one that has opened new and wonderful opportunities.
Her son, Ryan, now age 8, has inspired Mrs. Bailey to share their experiences through speaking engagements called Psalm 23 Through A Child’s Eyes, in which Ryan recites Psalm 23 and Mrs. Bailey shares the story of their family. She and Ryan have also published several children’s books called A to Z In My City. The most recent book highlights Longview and several of the photographs were taken by members of the East Texas Down Syndrome Group (ETDSG). They have also featured Gladewater, Winnsboro, Kilgore, Gilmer, and most recently Tyler, in their A to Z In My City books and have donated a book to each of those city libraries.
In recognition of October being National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, the East Texas Down Syndrome Group (ETDSG), in affiliation with the National Down Syndrome Society, will host the Eleventh Annual Buddy Walk of East Texas on Saturday, October 13, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Teague Park. The one-mile walk and family-fun day is an opportunity to increase awareness and acceptance of those with Down syndrome. The day will include a hot dog lunch, music, a space jump and climbing wall, clowns, pumpkin painting, face painting, and more.
“The East Texas Down Syndrome Group serves to connect new parents to our members, to area resources, to educational opportunities, to socials, and more,” Mrs. Bailey said. “East Texas is blessed to have ETDSG and its many services.”
In addition to her commitment to the ETDSG, Mrs. Bailey is a member of Friends of the Library at the Lee Public Library in Gladewater. She is also a long-time volunteer for the MD Anderson Cancer Center and is on the speaker’s roster for the National Cancer Survivor’s Day Foundation.
“I believe God’s word that encourages us to serve as we have opportunity,” Mrs. Bailey said. “I also strive to under promise and over deliver...a must!”
Born in West Carrollton, Ohio, Mrs. Bailey and her husband, Brent, settled in East Texas 29 years ago as newlyweds.
“I love the Longview slogan, Real East Texas,” Mrs. Bailey said. “It’s so fitting because the people of Longview are real and genuine. It’s people like Lisha Mack, Leslie Stevens, and Jamie Connors, who showed me ‘real’ lives and (gave me) ‘real’ support when I needed that early direction on this journey. So now, there’s no greater joy than visiting a new mom and introducing her to my gift from above, praying our gift of time will give her and her family a ‘real’ boost of encouragement.”
For more information about the Buddy Walk of East Texas, please visit www.etdsg.org.s.