To view this page ensure that Adobe Flash Player version 11.1.0 or greater is installed.
December 24, 2008 THE VILLADOM TIMES III • Page 9
Ho-Ho-Kus Basketball ‘Wizard’ delivers positive message at ECLC
by Jennifer Crusco
Although he developed epilepsy at age
two, “Mighty Mike” Simmel of the Harlem
Wizards entertainment basketball team
was determined not to let any adversity
stand between him and his dreams. Last
week, Simmel brought his positive mes-
sage to the students at the ECLC School
in Ho-Ho-Kus courtesy of the Ho-Ho-Kus
Simmel addressed two groups of spe-
cial needs students, urging them to never
let a disability of any type keep them from
achieving their goals. He also stressed the
importance of staying away from drugs
and alcohol and to continue to make smart
decisions throughout their lives.
“It was a wonderful program,” Ho-Ho-
Kus Police Chief Gregory Kallenberg said
of Simmel’s address. “Each year we bring
in someone challenged to challenge them
(the students), and the speakers are always
Police Ofﬁcer Sean Leonard, who is the
coordinator for the Ho-Ho-Kus Munici-
pal Alliance, arranged for Simmel’s visit.
Funding was provided through the Bergen
County Municipal Alliance.
After his talk, Simmel taught the
approximately 100 students from a variety
of grade levels different tricks and skills
with a basketball. He also held a ques-
tion and answer session and signed auto-
graphed photos of himself in his Harlem
Simmel moved to New Jersey from
California as a youth. As a boy, he was
unable to hop on one leg or skip due to
his epilepsy. When he was six years old,
he was placed in a special education gym
class. At seven, Simmel received a bas-
ketball from his father, who hoped the
activity would help the boy develop his
motor skills. Simmel was a natural, and
he became a point guard and later captain
at Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey. He also
became a starter and assist leader at the
Hun School in Princeton.
As a high school student, he began
having grand mal seizures, which contin-
ued through his college career. Simmel
also faced bipolar disorder, but he per-
severed, eventually receiving his degree
in liberal studies from SUNY Purchase,
where he was a two-year captain of the
basketball team, and became a leader in
assists and steals.
Simmel later became a part time ball
boy for the New York Knicks and worked
at their home games at Madison Square
Garden. Now seizure free, Simmel has spent the
last seven years with the Harlem Wizards.
He has been featured on several radio
and television programs, including a live
performance on NBC’s “Showtime at the
Apollo.” He now performs one-man half-
time shows and is a national spokesman
for epilepsy awareness.
He has also established a summer camp
for children with special needs.
Harlem Wizards star Mike Simmel (center) is ﬂanked at left by Ho-Ho-Kus Police Chief Greg-
ory Kallenberg and Patrolman Sean Leonard and at right by ECLC School Principal Vicki
Lindorff and physical education teacher Zara Dovlatyan.
Here’s a SMART IDEA for
No need to leave town for CONVENIENT, expert service
- our ASE Certiﬁ ed Technicians know your vehicle!
We Offer a BETTER $ VALUE than the dealer with a
Longer Lasting Warranty: 12 months or 12,000 miles.
New Customers Now Take GIVES US A CALL WHEN
NEED 15% OFF the first service YOU LOCAL CONVENIENT,
������������ Your Friendly Neighborhood Service Center
209 S. Maple Ave., Ridgewood • 201-652-4818
AAA Approved Facility
www.richtersauto.com ASE Certiﬁ ed Technicians
Winter specials available now for a limited time only.
Call Robin at 973-636-7000
Glen Rock & Passaic
NOW OPEN SUNDAYS!
201.345-5621 We Offer Line Of Credits And