A day for Barbara

Cathy Bingham's eyes filled with tears as she looked at her daughter, Barbara, and recounted the ways her family has been blessed. As with all newborns, the Bingham family was forever changed when Cathy gave birth to Barbara. But Barbara is different from her siblings. She was born with Down syndrome and a heart defect.
Krystle Wagner
May 17, 2012


For the first 11 months of her life, Barbara had to be fed every two hours, with each feeding taking an hour’s time. After that time, she underwent the first of two heart surgeries to repair the defect. She had her second surgery at age 3.

Doctor’s didn’t expect Barbara to live past 7.

As Cathy and her husband, Sandy, juggled caring for their other children and a newborn with special needs, a knight in shining armor came to the rescue – a community that cared.

Whether it was helping with laundry, cooking meals, or keeping the Bingham family in their prayers, members from the Spring Lake and Grand Haven communities stepped in to help in any way possible. Throughout the years, these communities have continued embracing and empowering Barbara.

“God has sent angels with skin on to help us take good care of her from birth all the way through,” Cathy said.

Once they had a grasp on their daughter’s health, Cathy and Sandy began their campaign to enroll their daughter in school. After a long battle, Barbara was allowed to attend Spring Lake Public Schools.

In high school, she joined the track team and involved herself in student organizations and committees such as “Say No to Drugs.” After high school, Barbara attended Community Based Instruction, where she learned job skills such as proper workplace behavior.

Now age 26, Barbara and her family are celebrating a milestone. On Tuesday evening Barbara graduated from Community Based Instruction.

As Cathy organized “Celebrate Barbara Day,” an open house commemorating her daughter’s graduation, she was faced with a dilemma: How would she remember every single person who had impacted Barbara’s life?

WHAT: Celebrate Barbara Day
WHEN: 2-4 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: St. Patrick’s Church Family Center, 901 Columbus Ave., Grand Haven

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.


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