“I am the Storm”
That was Bailey Buell’s rallying cry during her year-long battle with cancer. She fought with bravery, courage, humor and grace until she passed away on January 20th, 2024. She was 9 years old.
Bailey refused to play by anyone else’s rules. True to form, when she was born, she chose to surprise her parents by arriving two weeks early, in the middle of the night and, of course, upside down. Why do anything easy when you can do it with flair? She kept her parents and frankly, the world, on their toes every day thereafter. Upon delivery, the doctor remarked to Bailey’s mom, Catherine, “I hope you have an interesting name picked out because this is going to be one interesting kid.” Bailey seemed perfect.
In the last year of her life, Bailey’s name took on a whole new meaning. It became Bailey the Brave. It is the inspiration for Bailey’s Warriors, an army of folks near and far that stood shoulder to shoulder, refused to back down and rallied behind her fight. Bailey’s Warriors was and is a common sight on yard signs, hats, sweatshirts, cars and team jerseys throughout her beloved hometown of Chatham, New Jersey. Bailey’s name extended even farther when it became the battle cry for the Cycle for Survival team created in her honor, which raised more than one million dollars for rare cancer research last year—the first team in Cycle for Survival’s 17-year history to do so in a single season.
Bailey attended pre-K at the Stanley Preschool. She then joined her classmates at Washington Avenue School for K-3rd grade and started 4th grade this past fall at the Lafayette School. She was an excellent student, loved her teachers and was an inspiring presence in class. She went to school every day she could, despite her weekly treatments and the debilitating side effects. She loved learning and the sense of accomplishment she got when she mastered a concept. She was considering becoming a doctor, but only after first becoming a professional lacrosse player.
Bailey loved sports and, like her mother, anything competitive. She played for the Football Academy soccer club, Chatham Lacrosse, Chatham Softball, the Madison Y Lady Gators basketball team and the Canoe Brook Country Club swim team. She played to win, but more than anything, she enjoyed simply being on a team, rallying her teammates.
Bailey’s range of interests and passions were almost as wide as her smile. She enjoyed riding horses, almost as much as she loved cuddling dogs. She was learning to play the guitar and drums. She was a great dancer, she wrote songs, she loved to read, build and, of course, play the occasional prank. She was a huge fan of Chatham Girls Lacrosse, the USWNT and the NY Giants. She was a true Swiftie, but she loved the music of her cousins, Drew and Ellie Holcomb, the most. More than anything, though, she was the #1 fan, as well as protector, of her younger sister, Summer.
“Funny. Brave. Athletic. Stubborn.”
Self–described words from a 9 year old girl in the fight for her life. They imply so much and yet say so little. Bailey embodied the old adage that laughter is the best medicine. She knew just when to crack a joke and her side splitting giggle would leave others laughing until they cried. She was tough as nails, even when terrified of the road that lay ahead. She never backed down and she always, always, much to her parent’s chagrin, held her ground. She would do it her way. Chemotherapy, radiation, trials, surgeries, countless needle pokes…all done her way. Yet by the end of whatever arduous trial she had to endure, she could still smile and light up a room. She had that unique ability to waltz in, flash her megawatt smile and immediately put everyone at ease. She lived fiercely, she laughed fiercely and man, did she love her people fiercely.
While most people’s time on earth is measured in decades, Bailey’s life wasn’t marked in years, but instead in how she made people feel. She was measured not against the lens of time but in multitudes of light and love.
Maya Angelou famously declared- “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Bailey, your army will never forget how you made them feel.
She was the loving daughter of Daniel and Catherine (Crews) Buell and the devoted sister of Summer. She was predeceased by her grandmother, Mary “Noni” Gardner. She leaves behind a warrior legacy in her family near and far: Grandparents R. Warren Crews; Betsy and Stephen Buell; Aunt, Uncles & Cousins: Carrie and Ryan Ravagnie (Lydia and Amelia); William Gardner and Bronwyn Sill; Scott Buell, Jessica Egan (August) and Lisa Laskaridis (Oskar) and a litany of southern cousins that she loved more than life.
In lieu of flowers, her family requests donations be made in her memory to the Bailey’s Warriors Cycle for Survival Team (benefitting Memorial Sloan Kettering).
Warrior On. #baileyswarriors