Micky Taylor, center, hugs Jessica Weed after a prayer during services at Thornton Heights United Methodist Church in South Portland. Every Sunday, Taylor leaves her house in South Paris at 6 a.m. to spend 3 hours driving around southern Maine to pick up her “Angels.” Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Micky Taylor leaves her South Paris home by 6 a.m. every Sunday to round up her Angels.

She drives 42 miles south to Limington to pick up Jessica Weed, then turns east. It’s 15 miles to get Jason Haycock in Gorham, then 11 miles to Melissa Reynolds in Portland. Last into the van is Ronnie Byrnes, who lives 5 miles away in South Portland.

They roll up to Thornton Heights United Methodist Church in South Portland just in time for the 9:30 a.m. service, where they fill the first two pews and get ready to worship.

The Angels – many of them once friends of Taylor’s late daughter Missy are all adults with disabilities who may not otherwise have the opportunity to go to church or any of the dozens of other activities Taylor helps shuttle them to. But the van they rely on is no longer safe – it lacks working headlights and stalls out when it hits 40 mph.

The other congregants say the church just wouldn’t be the same without Micky’s Angels. So they want to help her replace it.

The church raised $5,000, then started a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of $25,000 to pay for a gently used van.


“Even though it’s a really, really long drive, it’s so meaningful for them to be part of the church that she makes the time,” said Pastor Gwyneth Arrison. “(Taylor) gives them a lot of joy they wouldn’t otherwise be able to experience.”

Paul Hansen of South Portland met Micky’s Angels when he started attending services a few months ago. He was immediately impressed with how welcoming the church was to everyone, including the group of adults with disabilities ranging from 28 to 50, and was later touched to learn more about Taylor and her motivation for helping others.

Micky Taylor, right, and Ronnie Byrnes get into her car after services at Thornton Heights United Methodist Church in South Portland. The used van she bought less than two years ago is now unsafe, so her church is stepping in to raise money to replace it. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

“This is just an act of someone doing a very kind and loving thing for other people out of nothing but the goodness of her heart,” Hansen said. “We need to recognize that and, as a community, be people who support that when we see it.”


Missy Taylor Courtesy of Micky Taylor

The story of Micky’s Angels began long ago, when Taylor’s daughter, Melissa “Missy” Taylor Colello, went to school in Portland.

Missy, who had Down syndrome, was born in 1974 and was participating in the Special Olympics program by the time she was 5. At Lyman Moore Middle School, she became friends with classmates Haycock, Reynolds and Byrnes, who were also Special Olympians. They stayed in touch even after Missy moved to Windham, where she graduated from high school in 1994.


Missy was happy-go-lucky, her mother said, and loved going to school and Pine Tree Camp. She enjoyed bingo, coloring, camping and doting on her baby nephew. She was a helper and was always concerned about others’ happiness.

In September 1994, Missy and her aunt Concetta Colello, who also had Down syndrome, both got sick with what Taylor thought was a cold. Colello got better, but Missy did not and ended up at Maine Medical Center with pneumonia. She died weeks later at age 20.

Taylor blamed herself. She questioned if she had made the right medical decisions and if doctors had provided the correct care.

But she also wanted to honor her daughter’s life.

She called her sister and Missy’s classmates to see if they wanted to be on a new Special Olympics team. They did. And “Missy’s Team” was off and running, with Taylor and two of her other children serving as coaches. The team name later changed to Micky’s Angels.

Micky Taylor, center, claps along to a song during services at Thornton Heights United Methodist Church in South Portland alongside her “Angles,” from right: Melissa Reynolds, Peter Brewster, Taylor, Jessica Weed and Ronnie Byrnes. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

In those early years after Missy died, Taylor said she only left her home to bring the team to events. Honoring Missy’s life by helping others brought her comfort and made her feel close to her daughter.


“It all started with a little girl with Down syndrome,” Taylor, 66, said. “Her memory is going on forever and won’t stop.”

The Angels have kept Taylor going ever since.

Over the last 30 years, their time together has grown to include far more than the Special Olympics. Taylor brings them to medical appointments and to visit their families. They go to Sea Dogs games and high school sporting events. They go out to eat and take scenic drives in the mountains. The Angels spend many weekends at Taylor’s home for self-care days and shopping trips. They celebrate birthdays and holidays together.

“It’s all about them, and I love every minute of it,” Taylor said, who calls them all her kids, even though they range in age from 28 to 50.


In 2019, Peter Brewster, an usher who has Down syndrome and has known Taylor for many years, invited her to attend Thornton Heights United Methodist Church. She instantly felt at home among “the kindest, most caring and giving people,” she said.


She asked the Angels if they’d like to go, too, and their Sunday tradition began.

The Angels are now active participants in every service, asking for prayers for their families and sharing the joyful moments in their lives.

Micky Taylor, right, speaks to the congregation at Thornton Heights United Methodist Church in South Portland. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Less than two years ago, Taylor bought a used 2010 van with all the money she had saved and borrowed $3,700 from a friend. She said she didn’t know it had a salvage title until it arrived in the mail. Problems with the van have mounted ever since, and she said it’s too unsafe for the Angels.

Taylor, who is deaf and on a fixed disability income, can’t afford to make the repairs.

For the past few weeks, Taylor has borrowed her daughter’s Toyota Camry and has already put 1,300 miles on it. She and the Angels cram into it for their outings, but it’s not ideal, and she can’t use it forever.

“They’ve nicknamed it the Matchbox. It’s quite an ordeal to get them into it,” Arrison said.

Taylor said she cried when she found out that the church wanted to raise money for her to buy a new van. She never thought that was possible.

“I’m still in shock. I went to talk to my daughter and said, ‘Missy, do you know what they’re doing for me?’ ” she said.

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