Billy’s birthday trip is here

Published 2:47 pm Tuesday, August 10, 2010

My dear friend Billy Simmons Jr. and I will be making our annual trip to Atlanta this weekend to take in a couple of Atlanta Braves games at Turner Field.

We try to go every year during the week of Billy’s birthday, which will be Thursday, Aug. 12.

Billy, my brother, Tom, and I will be attending Friday and Saturday night’s Braves games against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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Since moving here from Tallahassee six years ago, Billy, generally known as the No. 1 Bainbridge High School Bearcats and Lady Cats sports fan, has become an integral part of our community.

He is president of the St. Joseph’s Catholic Church Men’s Club, an active member of the Bainbridge Lions Club and a dedicated employee of Goodwill Industries in Bainbridge.

Three of his most prized possessions are a baseball autographed by the Bearcats baseball team and autographed basketballs from the Bearcats and Lady Cats basketball teams.

Coach Scott Miller and the 2008 Bearcats baseball team dedicated their program to him and he threw out the ceremonial first pitch on opening day.

Another of Billy’s prized possessions is a personally autographed picture of late Braves legendary announcer Skip Caray he got on one of our weekend Turner Field trips several years ago. He also has a foam tomahawk that he waves during the game.

Billy is an inspiration to me and a lot of other people in Bainbridge and Decatur County. While he is physically disabled with cerebral palsy, he doesn’t let his condition bother him one bit.

He is one of the most knowledgeable computer people that you will find. He has probably forgotten more about computers than I will ever know. One of his jobs while living in Tallahassee was as a computer teacher.

On Friday nights during the fall, he assists Bainbridge High School certified athletic trainer Chris Summers at Bearcats football games.

When time outs are called and the players come to the sidelines to talk with Bearcats head football coach Ed Pilcher and his staff, Billy is the first one there with water bottles for them.

In the winter you can find him on the front row at the new Bainbridge High School gymnasium cheering hard for the Bearcats and Lady Cats basketball teams.

Our weekend trip will give me a chance to visit my family, who are very special to me. In addition to my brother, they include my sister-in-law, Cheryl, my niece, Jennifer, her husband, Derrick, and their 3-year-old son and my great-nephew Samuel Lincoln “Linc” Roberts, my nephew, Billy, and his wife, Amelia and my nephew, Matthew.

Billy is just like a member of the family at my brother and sister-in-law’s home in Sharpsburg. We annually celebrate Christmas there.