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Coach, teacher recovering from serious burns

W. Kenneth Medley II • Mar 15, 2019 at 5:15 PM

Coach, teacher and community member Michael Smelser is recovering from burns at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Georgia, according to a Facebook post by Janie Weaver McNew, his mother.

“My son, Michael Smelser, has been transported to a burn center in Augusta, Georgia, due to a campfire accident yesterday,” McNew’s, statement read in part, “…He is badly burned from his waist down with mild burns other places … All we need at this time is many PRAYERS! Thank you. With God, all things are possible.”

McNew said she and other family members are making arrangements to travel to Georgia Thursday. Smelser’s sister made the trip and spent time with him Wednesday night. The statement said Smelser was at his cabin when the accident occurred.

Friend and colleague Richard Church set-up a Facebook support page and GoFundMe account. He is asking that people share words of encouragement and support. In addition, Church is asking for people to share stories of Smelser who is known throughout the county for his work in the school systems.

Recently Smelser filled in as a head soccer coach at David Crockett High School for one season.

“He is a role model and great leader in the community,” said Josh Kite, David Crockett’s athletic director. “ What he did for the boys at David Crockett was a season to remember. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”

Smelser is currently a physical education teacher at Liberty Bell School, located on the Science Hill campus. The school serves seventh- and eighth-graders.

“Mike is a valued member of our Liberty Bell family,” Liberty Bell Principal Donna Morgan said in a text. “He has impacted so many students in his tenure as a teacher and a coach. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mike and his family during this difficult time.”

The family is asking that people send prayers and well wishes. Messages, memories, and prayers can be posted at @welovecoachsmelser, on Facebook. A GoFundMe campaign has raised more than half of the $7,500 goal.

Church wrote of Smelser in the campaign description, “‘Coach’ Michael Smelser has positively impacted so many lives during his successful career as a dedicated PE teacher, high school soccer coach, club soccer coach and loving son, husband, brother and father.”

The community has responded by supporting him finically as evident in the more than $3,500 raised in eight hours by 55 people. For more information, visit @welovecoachsmelser on Facebook. To donate to the GoFundMe campaign visit gofundme.com/smelser-strong-family-relief-fund.