Egg Harbor Township —
Mike Simons, Cedar Creek assistant crew coach and former U.S. Army Forward Observer, was surprised to learn that removing a leg is expensive.
Simons, a first-year crew coach and former St. Augustine Prep national champion rower, had the lower part of his leg removed following a motorcycle accident in March.
A beef and beer fundraiser to offset Simons’ medical expenses and contribute to a new prosthetic leg, which can cost between $10,000 and $20,000, will be June 2 at 5 p.m. at the Mays Landing Golf and Country Club.
Simons will be driven to the fundraiser by riders from the Wounded Warrior Project.
“If I knew it was going to be that expensive, I would have asked them if they could do it real cheap. Just take a saw and cut it,” Simons joked.
“It’s more than I think I really deserve,” Simons said in a rare, more somber tone, on the fundraiser. “The way the community itself has come together, I have no words other than it’s completely awesome... I’m just trying to give back to the community as much as I can (to repay them).”
Simons returned to coaching three weeks after his accident.
“It’s as if he never lost his leg,” said Bob Garbutt, former Atlantic City High School crew coach. Garbutt is also the father of Matt Garbutt, the Cedar Creek High School head coach, and Jeff Garbutt, Mainland Regional High School girls head coach.
“He does stretching with the kids every day and he’s a good inspiration to all of the other programs out there too,” Garbutt said. “He’s a really strong person, but he’s hurting a lot too... He’s got his whole life in front of him.”
Simons said that coaching was more fulfilling than anything he’s ever done.
“We’re having an excellent season,” Simons said.
However, though Simons is still energetic, he admits the accident has impeded his coaching.
“Right now, I can’t catch boats on the dock, I can’t help lift boats. I’m here, but I’m not able to do things. I think that once I get a leg, I’ll be able to do a lot more and be a lot more effective,” Simons said.
Simons intended to continue coaching and start classes online at Full Sail University soon to study videogame development and design.
“He’s done a lot for us for our freedom,” Garbutt said. “At this point would be a travesty to see him slow down.”
The beef and beer fundraiser, supported by Cape Atlantic League high school crew teams, will be June 2 at 5 p.m. at Mays Landing Golf and Country Club. Tickets $25. For tickets, contact (609) 823-0493.