GARRISON, Texas (KTRE) - A former NBA player is helping the parents of a Garrison High School student who died suddenly from a genetic heart condition organize an awareness walk in his honor.
Dr. Scott and Michelle Sims, the parents of Ian Sims, said the community provided them with overwhelming support in June 2018, weeks after their son collapsed while mowing a yard with the company he worked for.
“We want to give back to our community in a small way by offering the opportunity for everyone to come out and walk for a health condition that’s near and dear to [their] heart,” said Michelle.
The Sims’ own the Northview Wellness Office, which has provided the Garrison community with chiropractic and wellness care for years. Although they said Ian’s death was related to an undiagnosed genetic heart condition, they realized there was an opportunity to give a voice to other “silent killers” and difficult conditions which East Texas families must face.
“In our office, we deal with patients every day that are dealing with the effects of debilitating conditions,” said Dr. Sims.
“We know so many friends and family who have suffered from situations with their family from different health conditions,” said Michelle Sims. “We just want our community to be aware of those conditions, and promote wellness, as well.”
In April 2019, Michelle was attending a conference when he happened to meet a man whose marketing background and wellness mindset matched their own. That man was Maurice McNeil. They realized they had a connection through a mutual friend from whom the Sims bought their practice.
“It was just a neat story, it was a neat happenstance, the circumstances all met up and Maurice has been great,” Michelle said. “He’s been very encouraging to us."
“It was a small world-type of deal,” said McNeil. “We just got each other’s numbers and kept talking, and you know, that was it.”
The two realized they had much more in common than friends; during a conversation, McNeil mentioned the fact that he wanted to plan a wellness event to raise awareness about cancer, seeing as he lost his grandparents to the disease.
Last minute, McNeil said, Michelle mentioned she and her husband lost their son to a heart condition and had considered a similar event.
“I thought wow, she could have mentioned this months before or whatever, but she didn’t want to put that on me or anything, and that just hit me,” McNeil recalled. “I said this story has to be heard. As positive [as they are], that’s tough for anyone to deal with, and they just handled it like true champs."
McNeil and the Sims began working together to organize an awareness walk in memory of Ian, but also as a reminder of the silent battles so many other families deal with every day, and in every form.
The Community Wellness Walk will be held Saturday, June 15 on the Stephen F. Austin State University campus, near the university’s recreation center. Registration begins at 10:30 a.m., and the 3-mile walk is scheduled to begin around 11 a.m. The community as a whole is invited to attend, no matter what you’re walking for: cancer, heart disease, autism, diabetes, genetic conditions, or even just for your own health.
You can register online on the Northview Wellness Center’s Facebook page.
“The main thing that we want to come from this event is that there’s a cooperative spirit of community about support with these issues,” Dr. Sims said. "Families are faced with sudden onset, like our case was, but others are in the trenches everyday dealing with those issues.
“We want to be a support to the community like they were for us, and we hope they draw that same hope from that type of event, as well."