The Cool Man

Colin Allen

Athens, Georgia (Senate District 47)

Colin Allen works part-time at a mobile coffee cart called Java Joy. He is a 19-year-old man with cerebral palsy. He lives with his mom, Heather, in the Athens area. Patiently waiting on the “short list” for about four years, Colin is hoping to receive services through the Medicaid waiver program. It took Colin and Heather a month to apply. Heather says her mother recently retired earlier than she’d planned simply so she can help out with Colin’s transportation and other needs, but her mom is aging and she won’t be able to help them much longer. Heather talks about what they would do with the Medicaid waiver: “I’m not one to ask for stuff, but I need the waiver so he can have a full life. I don’t want him to have to come home and stare at the four walls. He wants someone to hang out with. When he gets out of school, it’ll be crucial. I can’t stop working then. What am I gonna do?” (Story continues below after slideshow.)

Colin talks about how he’d like to live on his own one day, and he’s says he’s already got it all mapped out. He wants to live in an apartment with three of his friends when he graduates in two years. Mom says that the transition may not be as fluid as he imagines, but she’s hopeful he’ll be able to find a place nearby so they can stay connected and he can also experience independence. 

The Allens have been going to their church, Crossroads, a non-denominational church just up the street for a large portion of Colin’s life. It’s their center point. Colin says, “I have some pretty nice friends there, and we worship the Lord together.” He’s an active member of his youth group and loves to sing. He enjoyed their recent trip to Gatlinburg, including the chair lift up into the mountains, the roller coaster, the hot tub and evening services.  

Heather says they had to work to find a church home after Colin was born because he wasn’t always the most compliant worshiper when he was young. Sometimes he would yell out or flail his arms or say even say things back to the minister. This church was different, though, and she knew it immediately. They welcomed Colin and her whole family and made them feel right at home. Administrative Pastor Kay Dillard comes to say hello as Colin gives a tour of favorite spaces in the church. “There is no greater joy than to watch this young man enter into praise and worship.” Pastor Dillard speaks about her hopes for her the young man’s life: “It reminds me of a quote I read the other day. It said, ‘Do not strive to be successful, but strive to be significant.’ I see that for him. He’s going to make a difference in the world. His life has meaning.” 

Writer: Shannon Turner, Photographer: Lynsey Weatherspoon 

Copyright © 2019 Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities. All Rights Reserved.
Using Format