Donald Bailey named 2014 Distinguished Alumnus

Beating Clemson his freshman year was the start of Donald Bailey's love affair with the University of South Carolina. The relationship grew stronger with a 90-yard kickoff return, an Atlantic Coast Conference championship and three more victories over Clemson.

After graduation, Bailey became an insurance executive and financial planner, but his love of Carolina drew him back to campus. He joined the Gamecock Club and the My Carolina Alumni Association, where he eventually served as president. In 1990, Bailey was elected and served for eight years on the university's board of trustees.

Bailey left board service to concentrate on the care of his autistic son, Donald Jr. The diagnosis left Bailey wondering whether his son would ever share his Carolina experience.

"I think as a parent, we all do what we can for our children. I promised him that I would do everything I could to get him the opportunity to go to college," says Bailey.

Bailey started a nonprofit organization called College Transition Connection, which helps young people with intellectual disabilities attend college. The CarolinaLIFE program started with Donald Jr. in the first class.

Thanks to Bailey's work, similar programs opened at Clemson, the College of Charleston, Coastal Carolina and Winthrop. For that service to the community, the alumni association named Donald Bailey, '71, its 2014 Distinguished Alumnus.

"It means a lot to me. I'm really honored and humbled that I was even considered, but I am honored and very appreciative."

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