Mom to run torch in south Carson City

Roberta Simon holds a photo of her adopted family Friday afternoon. She was nominated by her sister to be a olympic torch bearer.   photo by Rick Gunn

Roberta Simon holds a photo of her adopted family Friday afternoon. She was nominated by her sister to be a olympic torch bearer. photo by Rick Gunn

If motherhood were considered an Olympic event, 44-year-old Moundhouse resident Roberta Simon would be a top contender. Mom to 12 adopted children with special needs, she will carry the Olympic torch from Somerset Drive to Horizon Drive in southeast Carson City early on Jan. 21.

She is one of 65 torchbearers who will be profiled on NBC the day she carries the torch.

Simon was nominated by her sister Tammy Hakala because of her dedication to this cause. While she feels truly honored, she said her husband Merrill, a computer specialist for the Nevada Department of Transportation, should be getting this accolade with her. The couple has been married 24 years and has no biological children.

"We've dedicated our lives to helping children that might not be placed in a home," she said. "But I just see it as being a mom."

A woman with no time for athletic pursuits, Simon will "briskly walk" her two-tenths of a mile. She said the magnitude of what has happened hasn't really sunk in, but is coming in small steps -- when she bought her jogging suit and again on Thursday when officials at NBC chose her to be a featured torch bearer.

"But it hasn't really sunk in yet, what an honor this is," she said. "Part of me feels every mom in America should be running with me."

She said the children are pretty excited about seeing her in the limelight.

The couple currently has nine special-needs kids at home and more adoptions are being processed. Two children are grown and two, classified as medically fragile, have died. Malachi died of liver cancer at age 6 in 1997 and Jason passed on this August due to the complications of his condition.

Originally from Dallas, Texas, the couple relocated here in March of 1987 and Simon readily admits to loving Nevada.

"I never would have moved here, but now I can't imagine living anywhere else," she said. "It was God's will. We had only one adopted child prior to our move here and we had five children when our son Malachi died in 1997. Following his death, God opened our hearts to accept more. The family has blossomed since and we now have 12."

When her husband is working, Simon handles this load on her own. The family had been getting some help through Eagle Valley Children's Home, but costs there have doubled and the budget won't handle the strain.

She said if the next two adoptions are successfully completed, she will get a mother's helper.

"God has brought this family together and he'll take care of us," she said.

The Olympic Torch will arrive in Carson City on Jan. 21 at 7:50 a.m. The Nevada Appeal will feature Carson City's 14 torch bearers through Jan. 20. Follow the torch's path at


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