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Family holds Marcus Simmons Day in Killeen to honor man who died from sickle cell disease

Marcus Simmons died in May 2009 from sickle cell disease. On the day after his birthday, the community came together to celebrate love, family and his life.

KILLEEN, Texas — Family members of Marcus Simmons hosted a free community event Saturday to honor the man who died from sickle cell disease in May 2009.

The event, Marcus Simmons Day, was hosted at the Killeen Special Events Center, which included family-fun activities and games.

"It doesn't stop when a life is taken. It keeps going," Jazmine Simmons, Marcus' wife, said. "And we keep going for him. We keep doing this for him."

Simmons was a husband, brother, father, son and friend. He served in the Air Force before he became a bus driver for Copperas Cove ISD.

He was born on Jan. 20, which was a day that brought sadness and hurt to his loved ones since he died. That was until his brother decided to celebrate his life, instead.

"This is the first time in 13 years that I haven't been sad on his birthday month," Dominique Simmons, Marcus' brother, said.  

Dominique Simmons started the Smile Like Marcus organization. Saturday's event was the first Marcus Simmons Days of many, his brother said.

"God gave me this vision to have a celebration on his birthday. And it was time to have a celebration for the community and people who have a birthday in January."

The goal of the event was to help spread smiles and joy around the city, which was something Marcus always did, his family said.

"Marcus wore braces for years. With or without the braces he had a smile on his face. When he got his braces off, the smile never stopped," Jazmine Simmons said. "All he had to do was smile or talk to you. It lit you up from the inside out. It was a glow. It was a feeling."

"That's who he was. He was one of those people that when he smiled it was contagious," Dominique Simmons added. "He was very goofy and made me laugh all the time. He showed me that it's okay to be who you are."

Marcus Simmons Day was full of dancing, food, makeup, a cake competition and more. 

Dominique Simmons and the rest of his family, are now ready to take the next step in honoring his brother's life.

"Now I'm at the point where I want to educate myself and I want to become an advocate for other families who have a loved one living with sickle cell or have someone pass away from sickle cell," Dominique Simmons said. 

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