Courtney Simms

simms2July 25, 1987 to September 14, 2009

Nicole Simms was born July 25th, 1987 to Cheryl Harper-Knight, who died in August 2007 on her way to visit Courtney and Chester Simms. She has two sisters, Dedra Simms and Ashley Harper, and a stepfather, William Knight and her niece Ashlynn. While in high school, Courtney was very involved in such activities as freshmen- senior class officer, FACES modeling Troupe, Beta Mu XINOS, Student Council, National Honor Society, and Yearbook Staff.

She graduated from West Side High School in June 2005 and was accepted into Indiana State University before she left and went to Florida A&M University (FAMU)

On Monday September 14, 2009, Courtney Simms, a senior Journalism student at Florida A&M University (FAMU) died from meningococcemia. Simms was very active at FAMU, including being a broadcast anchor for the school’s local newscast (FAMU-TV 20), in hopes of becoming the next Oprah Winfrey. She was also a spokeswoman for Fashion Fair Cosmetics and has appeared in their ads in Ebony and JET magazines. Over Labor Day weekend, September 5th -7th, 2009, Simms claimed that she was catching a cold but thought it was because of the change in climate coming from Florida to Chicago. She spent the weekend with her family and then returned back to Florida after the holiday break was over. Upon arriving back to Florida, Simms realized that the cold symptoms were starting to get worse and maybe was starting to develop into the flu.

That following weekend she stayed at her boyfriend’s house, since she didn’t think she was feeling well enough to be alone at home. Over the weekend she called her job and told them she wasn’t coming to work on Monday. That Monday morning, Sept. 14, 2009, Simms woke up to find that she was dizzy. As she tried to get out the bed to go to the bathroom, her legs gave out on her and she feel to the floor. She tried to call her boyfriend, but her fingers went numb. As her boyfriend walked in the apartment, from going to get breakfast, he found Simms on the floor covered with rashes. Seth Williams, her boyfriend, said that he couldn’t recognize her due to the rashes and all the swelling. He rapidly got her off the floor and drove her to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. Simms was admitted to the hospital around 3:00pm and was pronounced dead around 6:00pm. Dr. Marjorie Kirsch, a medical director for the Leon County Health Department spoke on Simms condition. “It can proceed very rapidly,” Kirsch said. “No matter what you do, they can go downhill very quickly. Everyone Simms had contact with was treated with the meningococcal vaccine to prevent the spread of her disease. Courtney Simms was one of my best friends and I, Amber Brown, found out about her death on Monday Sept. 14, 2009 at 6:00pm, as soon as I got to work at the University Library. Her boyfriend told me and her other friends the details pertaining to her death. Later after Simms’s death her younger sister and child received the vaccination. I spoke to Simms during Labor Day weekend, but our other friends told me that she wasn’t feeling well.

Many of her friends spoke to her on Saturday including her ex-boyfriend, who said that she wasn’t feeling any better and was planning on going to the doctor. Many of her family and friends are now aware of the rare disease.

Courtney was a great friend. She made sure that her time was shared amongst her friends and she stayed positive even in times of sorrow. She loved life, family, and to travel. We are praying that a cure will be found so that other families won’t have to deal with a sudden lost like we did. We will continue to donate to this disease, and make sure her legacy lives on.