SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - A special connection made at a local ice rink is helping a Bossier City family find peace following the tragic death of a family member.
Over the past year, family, friends and many others across the Shreveport-Bossier area have been remembering Bailey Speights through memorials and a special social media page set up in her honor.
On July 1, 2015, Bailey was killed in a crash while her sister, mother and her Airman step-father were returning to Bossier Parish from a cross-country trip.
One year later, Bailey's sister Keely is remembering her beloved sister by making a dream come true. Literally.
"She woke up on Christmas Eve and said, 'I had the best dream ever'," recalls Stefani Romanyak, Bailey and Keely's mother. Stefanie says Keely dreamed the two sisters went ice skating on Christmas Day.
Within hours, the family discovered George's Pond inside the Hirsch Coliseum, which offers public skating on the rink that will soon be used by the returning Mudbugs hockey team.
Not long after slipping on her skates, Keely told her mother, "I can breathe. Me and Bailey are skating."
Bailey's dream had come true.
"I called my Mom and told her how great it was and Keely was enjoying," explains Stefani. But she adds she was very surprised by her mother's reaction.
"My Mom messaged me and was like, 'Do you know anything about this place? No, it's just an ice rink'," Stefani says she told her mother.
The ice rink they chose, inside the Hirsch Coliseum, is called George's Pond. It's named in honor of 12 year old George Cloutier who lost his life in a tragic accident.
"There's not a day that goes by that I don't walk into the building and know that George Cloutier," began long-time Shreveport Mudbugs coach Scott Muscutt before pausing to gather his thoughts.
"I feel him everyday," continued Coach Muscutt.
Cloutier had played youth hockey for years with Muscutt his coach on some of those teams.
"I just burst into tears," Stefani shared after learning of young George's connection to the ice rink. And even as she wiped away the tears, she unknowingly walked straight up to Coach Muscutt.
"It was pretty crazy," recalls Muscutt. "Right in the middle of all of those smiling faces and all of those people happy to be here, there was this lady crying."
Coach Muscutt says an emotional Stefani immediately began asking how to buy passes to the rink, stating she wanted to come everyday.
Muscutt and Stefani began talking. The coach about George and Stefani about Bailey.
"This is where we come to breathe. This is where I come and cry and everyone understands," exclaimed Stefani. And Coach Muscutt seemed just fine with that.
"This is the place where they could come as a family and actually forget the troubles of the past."
The Romanyaks were taking advantage of public skating days at George's Pond as often as possible. But on one day, Coach Muscutt hit them with the unexpected. A banner hanging from the rink wall with the words, 'Remembering Bailey'. And for Keely, it helps he do just that every time she hits the ice.
"She loves skating by Bailey's banner. It's her comfort spot," explains Stefani. And Bailey's little sister Keely says her mother certainly has her figured out.
"I just want to be by my sister," shared Keely.