Amanda Hammon, Appeal Staff Writer

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January 20, 2002
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Firefighter proud to carry the Olympic torch

For a week, Carson City firefighter Mike Santos read the stories of other Carson residents who have the honor of carrying the Olympic torch through the capital city.

On Wednesday, Santos was called into Assistant Fire Chief Steve Mihelic's office and asked what he would be doing Monday.

"I said, 'Not much. I thought I'd go watch the torch go through town in the morning,'" Santos said. "(Mihelic) said, 'How would you like to be a part of that?'

"I had a huge knot in my stomach. I read the articles on people running and thought about what neat things they did to get nominated and what people thought about them. Then this happens. I'm just humbled and proud."

Mihelic said he was asked Wednesday to nominate a firefighter to be torchbearer.

"We chose Mike because he's representative of the firefighters in this organization," Mihelic said. "He represents the day-to-day guy who's getting it done. When somebody is needed to step in and do it, he goes and does it. He's not worried about a ton of fanfare. He's the everyday firefighter. He's just dedicated to doing his job and doing it well with that quiet diligence that is very representative of most firefighters."

A 30-year Carson resident, Santos has been a firefighter for 10 years. He married his high school sweetheart, Kim, 19 years ago, and they are the parents of Chad, 17, and Mallory, 15.

In his humble manner, Santos said he struggled at first feeling worthy to carry the torch until he thought of a purpose to carry with it.

"I want to dedicate it to the firefighters, the guy who quietly goes to work everyday and does his job," Santos said. "Last year, 440 firefighters lost their lives in the line of duty, 346 at the World Trade Center. That's what I'll be thinking about.

"We come to work and just do our jobs. I'm proud of the guys I work with, and I'm proud of my profession."

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Jan 20, 2002 12:00AM Published Jan 20, 2002 02:33AM Copyright 2002 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.