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Thinking about number one fan Billy

About this time every year, my dear friend Billy Simmons, Jr. whose two favorite sports are NASCAR and football, talks about being football deprived and how much he is looking forward to the beginning of the high school, college and professional football seasons.

His favorite NASCAR driver is Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and, being raised in Tampa, Fla. where he graduated from high school, his favorite professional football team is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

His favorite high school football team, of course, is coach Ed Pilcher’s Bainbridge High School Bearcats, and his favorite college football teams are the Florida State University Seminoles, the University of Alabama Crimson Tide and the University of Georgia Bulldogs.

In the fall he is on the Bearcats sideline every Friday night, home or away, assisting athletic trainer Chris Summers.

Whether the sport be football, softball, basketball or baseball, there is one thing you can count on, Billy will be in the stands supporting Bearcats and Lady Cats sports teams.

Known widely in Bainbridge and Decatur County as the number one Bearcats and Lady Cats sports fan, Billy is loved and respected by Bainbridge High School coaches and athletes. He has been presented with autographed balls by Bearcats and Lady Cats basketball teams and the 2008 Bearcat baseball team which dedicated their game program to him. Prior to the opening game of the Bearcats 2008 baseball season, he threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Also among his prized possessions are an autographed football and cap by former Bearcats and current St. Louis Rams safety James Butler Jr. who helped lead the New York Giants to a 17-14 2007 Super Bowl victory over the previously undefeated New England Patriots in Glendale, Ariz.

He also has an autographed picture of the late Atlanta Braves legendary announcer Skip Caray that he personally got on one of our annual summer weekend trips to see Braves baseball games at Atlanta’s Turner Field.

Billy works at Goodwill Industries and has a degree in computer graphics. He is a real whiz on computers. He has forgotten more about computers than I will ever know.

Another of Billy’s many talents is cooking. Saturday evening, he invited me over to share a delicious stew with him. He had been slowly cooking it since 2 p.m., and it was melt in your mouth delicious. He also cooks delicious chicken and ribs on the grill.

Billy, who has been an inspiration to me and his many other friends in Bainbridge and Decatur County, will be having an outpatient surgery procedure on his left foot this Friday at Memorial Hospital.

He is looking forward to the procedure because he knows when completed it will help him walk better.

Billy makes friends faster than anyone I know. Unless you just moved to Bainbridge and Decatur County in the last few weeks or months, you probably know him.

Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers this week as he prepares for and goes through his surgical procedure.