The Malibu Times 2012 Mother of The Year, Rosie Award: Susan Demers

Susan Demers, The Malibu Times 2012 Mother of the Year Photo courtesy Susan Demers

Susan Demers has been chosen to receive The Malibu Times 2012 Mother of the Year Rosie Award.

Born in Denmark, Demers moved to Malibu in 1980. She has a 26-year-old son, Karsten, and has been a mother to many children, including a foster daughter she cared for during a multiyear period.

Many of the children who look to Demers as a mother figure are her students. Demers, who operates Malibu Show Stables, is a horse trainer and rider who has taught many young Malibu natives how to ride horses. More than a teacher, many of Demers’ students grew to seek her advice and look to her for guidance.

Demers has conquered many obstacles during motherhood, including the death of her husband, when Karsten was only 15, and beating breast cancer.

Overcoming such hardships has made Demers a woman to admire.

“She has been a huge inspiration in my life, teaching me valuable lessons that have carried over into how I live my day-to-day life,” Karsten wrote of his mother. “Not only does she mean the world to me, but she has been a motherly figure to all of my friends and the children she teaches.”

Throughout the numerous nomination letters sent on behalf of Demers, one of the common threads was her devotion to her students. She goes beyond the duties of teaching technique to instilling valuable life lessons.

“She is a riding instructor by trade, but she is a woman with wings to everyone else,” Liza Utter-Pernice wrote. “Susan doesn’t just train, coach and instruct young women on the art of riding, but she is an invaluable force in a young girl’s life…Susan takes these girls and gives them something to believe in, restores their confidence, gives them hope and brings them joy.”

Demers’ devotion to her students is evident through her willingness to take in those who need help. In 2005, she began caring for a young girl as a foster child who was in need of a home.

“That made me proud to see that I have a mother who was willing to give everything she had to make this young girl have a better life, and today I can say I have a great sister,” Karsten wrote to The Malibu Times.

Demers has also taught many special needs children over the years. In one nomination letter, the writer explains that Demers had one student with severe Asperger’s syndrome who found something reliable to be passionate about and became an accomplished rider thanks to Demers’ patience and guidance.

As for Demers, being named Mother of the Year has her feeling grateful.

“I am really very happy. I’m thrilled that people kind of acknowledged that I have done a lot for the community, even though I don’t have 10 children of my own,” Demers said. “I am just very honored that people recognized me.”

The Mother of The Year, Rosie Award is named after publisher Arnold York’s late mother, Rosie York. As Mother of The Year, Susan Demers will receive the following gifts, donated by sponsors of the Rosie Award: two bottles of wine from Trancas Vineyards, two tickets to “Viva Las Vegas,” dinner for two at BeauRivage Restaurant, movie tickets, a family portrait, a complete scrapbook kit, complimentary wine tastings and a deluxe car wash.

Additionally, Mother of the Year Rosie Award honorable mentions go to Ellen Shane and Dianna Ficklin. Shane is a mother of three daughters, one of whom is Emily Shane, the 13-year-old girl who was struck and killed by a car on Pacific Coast Highway in 2010. Shane has started the Emily Shane Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps children in need, in her daughter’s honor. Ficklin is a mother of nine. In a letter from her children, they describe her as “an amazing, talented and generous woman, who spends her life sacrificing herself, and finds her happiness in the joy she brings to others.”