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Raising $ for Roland
EHS athletes helping out No. 1 fan
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer

EUSTACE–Eustace High School students and student athletes have been collecting funds for the school’s No. 1 fan, Roland Bailey.
A fifth-grader at Eustace Intermediate School, Roland has become a very familiar face at Bulldog athletic events.
Roland is facing some major surgery in January, which will require dad Mark to take a leave of absence from his job at Groom & Sons’ Hardware for several weeks.
Because he is confined to a wheelchair, Roland has developed scoliosis (curving of the spine). Surgeons will be placing steel rods alongside his spine to correct the curvature and keep his spine straight as he continues to grow.
The surgery at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children will take approximately eight hours, and Roland will be hospitalized seven to 10 days.
He’ll probably miss at least eight to 10 weeks of school. Both his dad and mother Holly (a Head Start teacher at Eustace Primary School) likely will miss a lot of work, and the family is trying to prepare for the economic difficulties that will cause.
Eustace High School girls athletes have held a fund-raising drive for Roland, as well as the EHS Spanish Club. His older sister, Reba, is a freshman at EHS.
“We wanted to help his family make some extra money, because we know his parents will have to take off work,” senior multi-sport standout Jaqlynn Bless said.
The girl athletes held bake sales and raffles.
“Some people just threw in their money, and didn’t even bother with the raffle ticket,” Bless recalled. “To us, he’s our family.”
The First Baptist Church of Eustace, the Eustace Area Sports Association and the Eustace Athletic Boosters have all undertaken fund-raising projects to help Roland and his family prepare for his upcoming surgery.
A savings account has been established in Mark and Holly Bailey’s name at Southside Bank in Gun Barrel City, where the family lives.
Roland is the grandson of Ray and Pat Bailey and Betty Haggard, all of Gun Barrel City.
Junior Cord Bailey, who is no relation to Roland, said his mother, Melanie Bailey, teaches many of Roland’s classmates.
“Evidently, she has those kids looking up to me,” Cord Bailey said (he was a unanimous first-team all-district selection at cornerback this fall). “She’s told me he (Roland) looks up to me a lot, so I try to be a role model.
“Every time I see him after the game or before the game, I try to go up to him and encourage him to be a good person, and not to quit,” Cord Bailey added.
Like other 11-year-olds, Roland is addicted to sports, and with the help of his parents, makes a point of trying to be at every Eustace High School varsity game in every sport.
“He (Roland) is always up here supporting us at the games,” senior offensive lineman Josh Lopez said. “He’ll always be here for us.”
“I like watching the sports, the high scorers being my friends and stuff,” Roland said. “I like seeing them play.
“After they let me get on the field, I enjoyed football more,” he added. He was allowed to stay on the sideline at the varsity football games for the first time last year.
Roland also gets an up-front seat at the baseball games.
It was a huge thrill for Roland to watch the Bulldog baseball team make the playoffs for the first time since 1989 last spring, and also watch the football team make the playoffs for the first time since 1997 this fall.
“He’s a good kid, and he looks up to us a lot,” junior quarterback Chris Compton (a former district “Newcomer of the Year” in both baseball and football) said.
“I think he has a good heart,” Compton said. “I appreciate him coming to all the games and supporting us.
“I think he encourages most of the kids,” he added. “He inspires us to do our best.”
Roland suffers from a form of muscular dystrophy called Duechenne Muscular Dystrophy, and has been confined to a wheelchair since the second grade.
With a small joystick controller under his right hand, Roland can zoom around and change directions as fast as his motorized wheelchair will allow.
“He definitely gets around,” mom Holly said. “He’s never let it slow him down.”
When asked if his chair has a Hemi, mom said quickly, “I think it’s fast enough.”
Roland’s Head Start teacher, Stephanie Kirkhart, was the first to notice that the then 4-year-old was having difficulty with some actions, such as climbing steps to reach the classroom sink.
Kirkhart had a physical therapist come in to observe Roland, who in turn recommended a specialist. After doing some blood work, the specialist suggested Roland see a neurologist.
At the Scottish Rite Hospital, Dr. Susan Iannaccone performed a muscle biopsy and confirmed the then 5-year-old Roland had Duechenne Muscular Dystrophy.
By age 6, Roland was using a push wheelchair when he was required to walk long distances, and by age 8, he was using an electric wheelchair (borrowed from the Muscular Dystrophy Association) much of the time at school.
By age 9, Roland was no longer able to walk, and confined to a wheelchair full-time.
That hasn’t slowed him down. During an interview for this article, Roland was complaining about pain in his left pinky, which he jammed catching a ball during a dodgeball game minutes earlier.
In addition to the usual sports – football, baseball, soccer and hockey – Roland is a big NASCAR fan.
“That’s why I have a red and blue chair,” he said, noting those are the colors of his favorite driver, Jeff Gordon, as well as the leading winner in stock car racing history, Richard Petty.
Although Petty’s heyday was well before Roland’s time, he is quite conversant with Petty’s accomplishments.
“I’ve watched a lot of history on NASCAR,” he said.
In 2006, with the help of the Make a Wish Foundation, Roland was able to visit the California Motor Speedway and meet Gordon in person.
Roland also has visited Texas Motor Speedway near Fort Worth, and plans to visit the NASCAR racetracks in Bristol, Martinsville and Talledega in the future.
When asked what kind of car he wants to drive when he gets older, Roland pondered for several seconds and named his choices – Lamborghini, Ferrari and a Ford Mustang.
“In car (video) games, I like Chevys,” he said. “They have the most powerful motors in NASCAR.
“I (also) like to watch Indy cars,” he added. “They go a lot faster. At the Indy car race, I got to see Robbie Knievel jump over 24 Hummers.”
Football probably is Roland’s favorite sport, although he also likes hockey for the same reasons – the speed of the game and the sound of players hitting each other.
A huge Texas Longhorns fan, Roland also likes the Dallas Cowboys and the Indianapolis Colts (quarterback Peyton Manning is a favorite), along with the Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars.
“I like a lot of teams from around here,” he said.
Just like any other Dallas Cowboys fan, Roland has his criticisms of the team.
“The only time they really play is when they’re playing the early game (on Sunday), or on Monday night,” he said.
In addition to dodgeball at school, Roland also plays wheelchair hockey once a month with a group at the White Rock YMCA in Dallas.
Math used to be his favorite subject in school, but now he’s into science.
“I think science is more interesting, learning about animals and stuff,” he said.
Much of his free time is spent playing video games, and Roland said he’d like to design video games as a career.
He’s hoping to get an XBox 360 and games for Christmas this year, as well as some games for his new laptop computer.
“We did wait until January to schedule the surgery, so we could enjoy Christmas,” mom said.

Monitor Photo/Barbara Gartman
Eustace High School varsity and junior varsity girls athletes present a $716
check to Roland Bailey for medical expenses and other needs. Pictured are
(from left) Cassie Freeman, Jaqlynn Bless, Nicole McNeel, Roland Bailey and
mom Holly Bailey, Tori Bynum, Krysta Lowry, volleyball coach Chuck Powers
and Imelda Maltos.

Monitor Photo//Barbara Gartman
The Eustace High School Spanish Club presented a check for $1,405 to Roland
Bailey for medical expenses. Pictured are (from left) Kathy Lamb, Ruth Adame,
Samantha Iiams, Imelda Maltos, Lisa Bynum, Roland Bailey and mom Holly Bailey,
sister Reba Bailey, Allison Bradbury, Haley Allen, Krysta Long and Tori Bynum.


Upcoming games

Girls Basketball

Dec. 29-31
MHS @ Kaufman tourn.
KHS @ Kaufman tourn.
EHS @ Brownsboro

Jan. 6
MHS @ Terrell*

Jan. 9
MHS vs Red Oak*
KHS @ Van*
EHS @ Mineola*
*district contest

Boys Basketball

Dec. 29-31
MHS @ Wagstaff Classic
(Tyler Junior College)
KHS @ Kaufman Tourney

Dec. 30
EHS @ Grand Saline


Jan. 2
MHS g @ Greenville
EHS b/g vs Ferris

Jan. 6
MHS g vs Ennis
EHS b/g @ Kaufman

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