A man who advocated for better services and treatment for the blind in Saskatchewan has died.
Mike Simmonds passed away of a blood clot Monday night in Saskatoon, according to Tim Hatcher, a friend of more than 20 years.
Hatcher said Simmonds, a comedian, had a deep sense of humour and loved music, adding the two often got together for harmonica jam sessions.
“I actually taught him how to play. Those jam sessions were always a blast,” Hatcher said.
In 1998, diabetes destroyed the vision in Simmonds’ left eye. A year later, he lost vision in both eyes.
“That really changed him a lot,” he said.
“It brought his life into perspective. I used to always bug him, ‘You’re funnier now that you’re blind,'” Hatcher chuckled.
Hatcher said Simmonds was a determined person who always wanted to learn new things.
“You know, when he got his teeth into something he really went all out.”
Simmonds advocated for many causes impacting the visually impaired, including more tolerance for guide dogs in public places. Last year he worked with 7-Eleven on training videos for employees after he was turned away at a store.
He also won a human rights complaint with a local cab company after a driver refused him service because of his guide dog.
“He realized how little people knew. So he wanted to inform people to make life better,” Hatcher said.
Simmonds helped organize many fundraisers over the years in support of organizations and causes supporting the visually impaired.
A benefit for the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians (AEBC) is being held Friday at Hudsons in Saskatoon; Hatcher said he’s hopeful the event can still go ahead.