Draw-a-thon fundraiser in memory of Jamie Simmons exceeds goals

Jamie Simmons|Photo courtesy Zackary Davidson Jamie Simmons|Photo courtesy Zackary Davidson

Tyrrell Meertins
Senior Reporter

Humber College’s visual and digital arts program’s first annual draw-a-thon took place April 5.

Held in honour of second-year visual and digital arts student Jamie Simmons, the fundraiser is aimed at helping future design students in need of financial assistance.
Simmons passed away from an acute asthma attack at a New Year’s Eve dinner party in December 2013, in Peterborough.

Marc Colangelo, a Humber visual and digital arts professor, said the fundraiser was a great way to help the program and commemorate Simmons.

“We wanted to do something to remember him, so I put forth an idea of a draw-a-thon as a way of remembering him and a way of raising some funds so that it could eventually help our program and remember his name,” Colangelo said.

The two-year visual and digital arts program is divided in a way that allows students to learn traditional skillsets, which is then carried on to the computer route.

Colangelo, who specifically teaches figure drawing and painting, felt the courses attracted Simmons because the subject matters were challenging and demanding.

“I thought Jamie was a great student. In my class, figure drawing, he excelled well. I thought it was one of his favourite classes, and he showed a lot of interest and hard work,” Colangelo said.

“The draw-a-thon idea came up because I figured this is one of his favourite classes, and it would be a nice way to commemorate his life.”

While drawing was one of Simmons’ niches, the Peterborough native was also a proficient writer.

Simmons’ childhood best friend, Zackary Davidson, said he’s always been able to seek assistance from Jamie regarding his writing.

“Jamie was someone I could always go to if I needed any help related to writing,” Davidson said.

“From simple things like asking him how to spell words, to looking over my essays in university,

Jamie was always very strong in writing and the english language.”

Still, art was Simmons’ passion. Davidson said that Simmons’ work would leave viewers mesmerized; he particularly recalled pieces of work Simmons submitted in their high school art gala.

“They were collages of different images, from characters he created, to symbols of brands and companies, as well as political symbols. Their particular drawings, two I believe he created were very interesting to look at; you could look at them for hours at a time, picking out the different images, wondering why he chose those symbols and why he placed them beside other ones.”

Despite being separated from his family during his time at Humber, Jamie’s love for them never went unnoticed, said second-year social work service student Kayla Glass.

“Family was a very high value to Jamie. He loves his parents Terry and Carmel with all his heart, and he wasn’t afraid to show it,” Glass said.

Glass also said Jamie’s appreciation of others and ability to raise the mood was one of his many beloved traits.

“Jamie was great at picking up people during hard times, and always wanted everyone to be happy, so he would do what he could to spread happiness.”

Terry Simmons recalls his son drawing pictures for his grandparents at the age of three, and believes his son possessed a natural talent.

“He liked to fish and go to the hunting camp, but he always loved to draw and do artwork,” Terry said. “He just drew stuff on his own, he didn’t really take art before college, and he would have been really good then.”

The fundraiser held by Jamie’s peers and Colangelo has raised approximately $4000 well beyond their initial goal of $1000. The hope is that Humber alumni will get involved in the project and carry it on for next year.

“I’m hoping it’s something we can do on a yearly basis, not only will it remember Jamie but it fulfills the need in our program,” Colangelo said.

“The money will be put into an award in Jamie’s name and given to a worthy student that may need financial assistance.”