Monster truck driver beats health issues

Bailey Shea Williams uses competitive spirit.

​Bailey Shea Williams’ childhood memories aren’t of birthday parties and family vacations, they are of hospital rooms and doctor’s appointments.

“I remember being in the hospital all the time until I was at least 5 years old — that was life,” Bailey Shea said. “My parents were told, when I was very young, that I wasn’t going to live to be 11.”

The now 25-year-old, who was initially misdiagnosed with having cystic fibrosis, flat-lined not once but twice when she was a child. Her parents didn’t give up and neither did Bailey Shea.

Close to two decades after being resuscitated the second time, the Missouri native is living life to its fullest. She still deals with breathing problems, a chronic lung condition and has only one functioning lung, but that doesn’t stop her. In fact, just the opposite, it motivates her.

Bailey Shea is in the midst of her debut season with Monster Jam, driving for the Scooby-Doo team. She will make her first Dayton appearance when the #MoreMonsterJam arena tour gets underway at the Nutter Center on Friday.

“It’s unbelievable. I never thought I’d make it this far,” she said. “In fact, I remember my high school principal telling me I ‘won’t amount to anything.’ “

Bailey Shea’s athletic endeavors started on a more traditional path. She was a gymnast, dancer, basketball and softball player. But once she climbed onto a four-wheeler for the first time, she was hooked.

“I rolled it a lot,” she said, smiling. “But my parents totally supported me, they said they were supposed to have lost me, and they didn’t, so they wanted me to live my life.”

Bailey Shea made her mark in ATV racing as the youngest female to win a Women’s Class, Production A and Production B class. She won 19 ATV championships and got her Monster Jam introduction in the Quad Wars ATV racing event. It wasn’t long before she made the transition to a Monster Jam truck.

It hasn’t all been smooth sailing for Bailey Shea as high levels of methanol in the truck cabs have caused breathing problems for her and she has broken 27 bones while competing, including a serious accident a few years ago in which she broke six ribs, her shoulder and collarbone and collapsed her good lung. She was in an intensive care unit for a week.

“People definitely think I’m a little crazy, but it’s OK, because I have my entire family backing me,” Bailey Shea said.

Her work ethic and never-give-up attitude is coming in handy in this new Monster Jam format.

The #MoreMonsterJam tour is the first points-paying Monster Jam endurance tour, featuring the biggest lineup of Monster Jam trucks ever in one arena. The show will be a competition between Monster Jam teams with events including trucks, ATVs and speedsters all driven by one team athlete. Points will be kept throughout the tour and, after the 10th city, the top two athletes advance to the Monster Jam World Finals in Las Vegas in March.

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Contact this contributing writer at djuniewicz@gmail.com.

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