Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ill Student's Super Bowl Dreams Coming True

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Ill Student's Super Bowl Dreams Coming True

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland, Staff writer

Rondell Simmons had to give up the sport he loves while undergoing treatment for a malignant tumor near the base of his brain.

But Sunday, the Southside resident will be a guest at the ultimate football extravaganza -- the Super Bowl. For the 17-year-old Sandalwood High School senior, it's a dream come true.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Simmons said. "I've always wanted to go."

Dreams Come True, a non-profit organization dedicated to fulfilling the dreams of children with life-threatening illnesses, is sending Simmons and his father to Houston for the game between the Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots. His mother, Brenda, and 11-year-old brother, Johnathan, are accompanying them.

The family got to thank those who made it possible at a festive send-off party Wednesday at the Dreams Come True office in Southpoint. The two tickets, which are in the club section, were donated by Lawrence and Linda DuBow, minority owners of the Jaguars.

Simmons fought back tears as he was presented with spending money, Dreams Come True T-shirts, a Jaguars cap autographed by Mark Brunell, a Panthers jersey, a media guide, posters and Super Bowl caps.

Simmons has been a football fan since he was old enough to know what the sport was. And he's been involved with it since he was able to pick up a pigskin.

It was while playing junior varsity football in Key West that he began having problems with his hearing. He experienced other symptoms after his father, Chief Petty Officer Alfred Simmons, was transferred to Jacksonville 1 1/2 years ago with the Navy.

Simmons, as usual, immersed himself in athletics. He played safety for the Sandalwood High Saints last year. He also joined the wrestling team and was so good that he was chosen for the team Florida was sending to the national high school competition in Virginia. …

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