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Special award honors special guy

I congratulate my dear friend Billy Simmons Jr. on winning the Decatur County Man of the Year Award at last Thursday night’s annual Bainbridge-Decatur County Chamber of Commerce awards ceremony and reception.

The award was presented by the Bainbridge Kiwanis Club during the ceremony, held at Bainbridge College’s Charles H. Kirbo Regional Center.

With his positive outlook on life and signature smile, Billy is an inspiration to me and many others in Bainbridge and Decatur County.

Billy’s late father, Billy Simmons Sr., a member of the U.S. Army’s elite 82nd Airborne Green Beret unit, is his role model and hero.

His father’s birthday is Tuesday, Feb. 8 and Billy has said that he would like to dedicate his Man of the Year Award to his dad and all the other brave men and women of the U.S. military.

Military men and women like Billy’s dad, who served during the Vietnam War, should be heroes to all of us.

Without their brave dedication to duty and sacrifice, we would not enjoy many of the freedoms we enjoy today.

Billy, a dedicated employee of the Bainbridge Goodwill Store since moving here from Tallahassee, Fla., in 2004, has often told me that if he did not have cerebral palsy, he would have joined the Army and followed in his dads footsteps.

I commend local builder Terry Ellis for nominating Billy for the Man of the Year Award.

Terry was a neighbor of Billy’s family when Billy and his brother Dan—who now lives in Havana, Fla., and was here to support Billy during Thursday night’s ceremony and reception—were growing up in Montgomery, Ala.

Unable to attend, but with Billy in spirit Thursday night, were his mother Kim Pham, her husband Tony and their son Tony, who all live in Houston, Texas.

As president of the men’s club at St. Joseph Catholic Church, a member of the Bainbridge Lions Club and equipment manager for the Bainbridge High School Bearcats football team where he works with certified athletic trainer Chris Summers, Billy has lent a helping hand to many through his various activities.

Myself and many other Bainbridge and Decatur County citizens are better because Billy Simmons Jr. passed our way.

Whether it be through his work with the church men’s club, his dedicated service to Goodwill or his work with the Bearcats football team, Billy has helped many.

During basketball season, you can find him on the front row of the Bainbridge High School Gymnasium’s reserve seat section cheering the Lady Cats of Coach Latreisha Moon and the Bearcats of Coach Rickey McCullough on to victory.

Unless you moved into the county last night, you have probably had the occasion to meet and talk with Biilly.

There is no bigger cure for a bad day than a friendly smile and hand shake from Billy.