With the 78th annual Elks Rodeo and Parade scheduled to be held on Sept. 2 to 5, the four candidates for the Elks Rodeo Queen contest have been announced.
Four organizations have committed to blanketing the community with fundraisers for youth recreation programs in conjunction with the annual contest, which will culminate with Queen Coronation on Sept. 3. Returning groups include the Kiwanis Club of Guadalupe, St. Joseph High school, Santa Maria Kiwanis Noontime and NSBC United Way.
The candidates made their debut Friday at the Elks Event Center, in lieu of what would have been the time honored tradition of the Queen Kickoff and Auction Dinner held at the Santa Maria Elks Lodge.
The four candidates are: Avery Nelson, St. Joseph High School; Chloe LeMarie, NSBC United Way; Faith Totorica, Santa Maria Kiwanis Noontime; and Isabelle Gamino, Kiwanis Club of Guadalupe.
Avery, a junior at St. Joseph High, has been involved with the California Scholarship Foundation Club and National Honors Society Club, which she says has challenged her in academic excellence and to give back to other students. She has been a member of the varsity soccer team since she was a freshman and said she plans on attending a four-year school such as Baylor or a military academy after college, and will possibly enter into medical school.
“I have a community that believes in me, who, even when this pandemic struck, worked tirelessly to give me the best chance I could have and gave me back my junior year on campus,” she said in a statement. “I hope to give back to these people who gave me these opportunities and who fought for me, and I am so proud to have them standing beside me as I compete in this campaign.”
Claire, a 17-year-old junior who will be attending Righetti High School as a senior, is currently a lifeguard at the YMCA and the city of Santa Maria. She plans on attending Santa Barbara City College to receive her marine welding certification before transferring to a four-year university to work towards a degree. Her previous fundraising efforts include raising money for St. Baldricks and shaving her head for childhood cancer research. She received her silver award as a Girl Scout.
“Throughout high school I’ve taken multiple Hancock classes, and this semester I was excited to have the opportunity to begin an American Sign Language course, where little did I know, it would spark the idea for this campaign,” she said. “I’m thrilled to share that this year’s campaign will focus on literacy and supporting the Deaf and Hard of Hearing youth within our school districts. We will be partnering with the Santa Barbara Education Office to coordinate funding for their school programs to address their needs, the Imagination Library, which puts books in the hands of the youth in our community, and Reading Plus, which helps struggling readers catch up to grade level. Proceeds from this campaign will also go towards assisting our homeless and much more.”
Faith, a 15-year-old sophomore at Righetti, is a member of the swim, water polo and softball teams. She is also an active member of the Orcutt Polo Association and her travel softball team, CA Velocity. She plans on attending a four-year university to pursue a career in the medical field.
For the past two years, she has been serving at her church’s food ministry, Angel Food. She also volunteers at various Special Olympics events.
She said that she is “extremely blessed” to represent the local Kiwanis Club, which supports schools, youth, sports, organizations and clubs in the community.
“I am looking forward to meeting new people in this exciting stage of life,” she said in a statement. “I am forever grateful for this opportunity and I would like to thank the Kiwanis Club of Santa Maria Noontime, the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo, friends, family, and my community.”
Isabelle, a 17-year-old senior at Pioneer Valley High School, has been involved with Future Farmers of America and various Christian clubs on campus, as well as volunteering at her church in the children’s ministry since she was 11.
After graduating, she plans to attend Allan Hancock College to complete her general education, and then transfer to Santa Barbara City College to pursue a career as a radiology technician. Her family has been involved with the Elks Rodeo for many years, and she is the third-generation of her family to run for Elks Rodeo Queen.
“I am grateful for this opportunity to represent a wonderful organization that shares my love and passion for serving the community and especially the youth. It is the mission of Kiwanis Club of Guadalupe to support various clubs, sports, schools, youth, and churches. I want to thank my grandfather, David Rodriguez, for his service as a longtime member of Kiwanis of Guadalupe, and for leaving a legacy of service and teaching me the honor of putting others above myself.”
For more information on the upcoming event, visit https://www.elksrec.com/.