Many men’s magazines, as I’m sure you’re well aware, enjoy featuring profiles of women—often beautiful celebrities—accompanied with photos of the subject in various states of undress. At STAND we’ve decided to add a regular profile of a woman we admire for reasons other than how she looks in lingerie or a bikini. This isn’t to suggest the women we feature won’t be beautiful but our focus will be on an integral beauty that’s not contingent on their physical attributes.
For this first edition of A Woman We Admire we’ve decided to keep things close to home and close to my heart. Deborah Kay Hayes was born portentously on a Friday, the thirteenth, in October of 1978. Her brothers were overjoyed at the arrival of a sister but this happiness was quickly dimmed by the news that she was born with Down syndrome. We wept at the news. However, when she arrived home several days later we were in love with our sister and nothing else mattered.
She has a unique ability to love everyone she meets, and consider that person to be, in her words, “the best” or “the most.”
Debbie has not had an easy life. People with Down syndrome often have significant health problems and she has battled many in her life, usually without complaint. She has experienced the deaths of those she’s loved, including a dear childhood friend, Dustin, who also had Down syndrome. In addition, Debbie deals daily with the knowledge that she is not quite like everyone else. She understands that she has Down syndrome and goes through the disappointment of knowing her dreams of getting married or becoming a doctor are unlikely to be fulfilled. She went through a period where she would sadly comment about her “Downser” face. I reminded her that she has a beautiful face with beautiful blue eyes. This always made her smile.
Despite her difficulties, it has always seemed to me that the extra chromosome she possesses must have granted her an extra capacity for love. She has a unique ability to love everyone she meets, and consider that person to be, in her words, “the best” or “the most.”
It’s unlikely that Debbie would appear in a women’s fashion magazine or in a traditional men’s lifestyle magazine, so focused as they are on outward appearances of success, but I can think of no one else who better exemplifies the characteristics and qualities of love that we’re championing in STAND 05, dedicated to love and relationships.
If you have an opportunity to meet Debbie I think it’s likely you’d agree.