Santa enlists helpers for Mound House family |

Santa enlists helpers for Mound House family

Jarid Shipley
Appeal Staff Writer

Dave Regaldo, left, and Ralph Denny assemble a new bed for McClain Simon, 5, in Mound House on Thursday morning. They were part of a team of volunteers that worked with the Light for the Children group, which coordinated the project. Cathleen Allison/ Nevada Appeal

McClain Simon got up Thursday morning and made his bed, like he does every morning. The 5-year-old knew he was going shopping for a new bed, but he never expected the one he got.

While McClain was away, Ralph Denny Sr. and Dave Regalado delivered and set-up a custom-made bed, modeled after one of McClain’s favorite things, the Grave Digger monster truck.

It was a joint birthday and Christmas present for McClain, complete with new sheets, a new night light and a personalized license plate replica.

Denny, a cabinetmaker, spent four days making the bed out of six sheets of 3/4-inch plywood. The bed was painted by Rupert’s Auto Body and Fender in Carson City.

“This has been a project of love. The whole secret to life is if you can make someone happy,” Denny said. “We don’t need to meet him; just being able to do it is enough.”

When McClain returned home Thursday night, he couldn’t believe what had happened in his room. He spent the next hour just exploring his new bed from every angle. He soon pulled out his other Grave Digger toys, six of them to be exact.

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“I love it. I love my bed,” he kept saying.

The project was spearheaded by Francis Smith, a board member of Light for the Children, a nonprofit group based in Indianapolis. The group paid for the materials, but all labor was donated for the project.

Smith and Denny said they were happy to help out the Simon family. Roberta and Merrill Simon have adopted 14 special-needs children. Nine of the children, including one grandchild, live with the Simons in Mound House.

McClain is joined by Justin, 18; Jesse, 17; Jeremy, 15; Micah, 13; Mordachi, 10; LisaMarie, 7; Joseph, 6; and grandson Joey, 3.

“I’ve never met anybody like them. Never met people who want the children no matter what shape they are in. They love beyond the human capacity to love,” Smith said. “They never ask for help. They just want to live their life, and they love their children very much.”

McClain was born 10 weeks premature and tested positive for three different illegal drugs. He came to the Simons at age 3 weeks, weighing 3 pounds, 3 ounces.

“He was the first infant we adopted. We’ve had them up to 10 years old, but he was the only infant,” Roberta said.

Roberta said the couple can’t see their lives without helping children who need it.

“We firmly believe this is our calling. This is what we are supposed to be,” Roberta said. “I’m supposed to be the best mom I can be.”

The family uses three freezers and four fridges to keep everybody fed. They go through four loaves of bread a week and about 30 gallons of milk. It takes two commercial-size washers and dryers to keep up with the laundry.

While the state pays for the children’s medical needs, the family receives no other compensation.

“It’s hard for me to see us as anything but just my family. The hardest part for me is that there aren’t 10 or 11 kids running around,” Roberta said.

Roberta said she is overcome with the amount of support her family receives from the community.

“It’s overwhelming that people think we are special. We’re not accustomed to hearing the positive side,” Roberta said. “Some people look at our family, and they just don’t understand our children, or they are afraid of them. They are just doing the best they can and trying to be the best people they can be.”

While McClain rejoiced in his new sleeping arrangements, the rest of the family had something to celebrate. They have recently been approved to take two more children, and hope to welcome them early next year.

“We have the attitude now that we won’t turn a child down if there is a need,” Roberta said.

• Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at or 881-1217.