Navarre High students raise money for sick teacher

Posted on October 6, 2015 by Stephen Bates

Pocket change from students went a long way for one Navarre High School coach and teacher who has been missing from the Raider hallways.

“Coach” Rob Simon, a Raider Science educator and Girls’ Varsity Soccer coach was given the surprise of a lifetime when students at NHS banded together to help raise money for the Raider after his health took a turn for the worse.

Earlier this school year, Student Government Association (SGA) members proposed a unique idea they called “1000-in-1”. The idea was thought up to help raise money for Simon, who has been battling Ulcerative Colitis since 2010.

The idea was simple: The SGA would choose one school day in which they would ask all of the students in the high school to pull what pocket change they had, and then put it in a bag. The students would have one-minute — hence the “1” in “1000-in1”— to empty their pockets out and get the change into a bag in their classroom.

All the money would then be pooled together and counted. Their goal was to raise $1,000 in that one minute, which they would then turn around and donate to Simon to help him (and his family) with medical expenses.

Simon was at the Cleveland Clinic in South Florida with his wife on Sept. 8 and had surgery on Sept. 10. When he returned home the next week, he heard about the news.

During the one-minute change collection, which occurred on Sept. 16, students helped raise over $2,800 for Simon and his family.

Since 2010, Simon’s condition has grown progressively worse. Earlier this year, Simon said he was rushed to Gulf Breeze Hospital where he had to undergo a life-saving surgery.

“Emergency surgery was performed that night to save my life. A large portion of my colon had to be removed. I spent the next two days in the Intensive Care Unit, and just over a week in the hospital,” Simon said. “(The doctor) saved my life and the nurses and staff at Gulf Breeze Hospital helped me recover.”

Simon told South Santa Rosa News, although he has been away from the school, he is now 2 ½ weeks out from his latest (and hopefully fi nal) surgery, and is ready to rejoin his students at the high school.

Simon returned to the classroom this Tuesday and Thursday and will be back full time next Monday.

When Simon returned to meet with school Principal Brian Noack last week, he was told about the fundraiser.

“I cried,” Simon said.

“These past six months have been extremely diffi cult for me physically. I cannot imagine what my wife and kids and rest of my family have gone through emotionally, but they have been rocks and without them, I couldn’t have done this. Navarre High School is made up of amazing faculty, administration, staff and students. I am very thankful to be a part of this family,” the coach said.

Simon said not only have his students been there for him, but the athletes he helps coach as well. “My girls’ soccer team and their families have been with me throughout this entire ordeal and for that I am blessed. As Mr. Noack always says, ‘It’s greater to be a Raider’,” Simon said.

Noack said when he was approached by students about the initiative earlier this month, he was not shocked. “As the Principal of NHS, I have witnessed on so many occasions our faculty and student body rise up as one and help those that are in need. NHS Student Government truly leads by example and personifies what it means to be servant leaders not only here in our school but throughout the Navarre community,” Noack said. “Coach Simon is well-loved and respected by the NHS student body and by his teaching peers, so I was not surprised to hear that our school raised close to $3,000 in one minute of time.”

Noack said this selfless act from students summed up “what it means to be a Raider.” “This special fundraiser for Coach Simon sends the message to all that attend Navarre High School that it is truly ‘Greater to be a Raider’,” he said. A GoFundMe account was also created back in July to help raise money for Simon’s medical bills. So far, the page has raised $2,020 of its $5,000 goal.