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Fundraiser for former Helena teacher after being hospitalized on vacation

Posted at 11:38 AM, Mar 18, 2023

HELENA — Former Capital High School teacher Laurie "John" Simms recently collapsed while visiting a Museum in Chile. Almost a month later, Simms remains hospitalized in South America and needs help getting home.

The accident happened on the last day of Simms' vacation. Doctors blame Simms's collapse on a sudden drop in blood pressure.

When he fell he hit his head; the injury required surgery to repair, and he is still recovering.

"My dad is showing some progress. Even the physicians there are surprised. And so today he's sitting up, he's feeding himself, he's communicating. He knows where he's at. He's kind of being more himself," said Meghan Erickson, Simms' daughter.

To get back to America, he will need to be transported on a medical flight.

"My uncle created a go fund me to help assist. And the support has been amazing. I mean, you don't expect that so many people will reach out and, um, yeah, it's beyond words. How, how moving and the sense of community that this is this is shown," said Erickson.

It's an expensive mission, and while his family has been helping in every way they can, they're also turning to the community for help.

More than 230 people have donated to the family's effort to get Simms home, and accompanying donations are words of gratitude and support for Simms.

"I love the fact that the community's rallying around somebody like that and it shows how much, you know, we cared for him and how much he meant for Helena and the school especially," said Jay Partridge, friend and former colleague of Simms.

Erikson says every day her dad is making progress, and when they can secure a flight he will be transferred to St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula.

Simms' GoFundMe page had raised more than $28,000 toward their $100,000 goal. If you would like to donate, click here.


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