It has been a long time coming, but the 2020 Santa Maria Elks Rodeo queens will finally get recognition for their amazing accomplishments during the height of the pandemic.
Faith DeBrum, Sabrina Dana and Anna Kuykendall had the most unusual campaigns in the long history of the Elks queen campaign.
“Even though we had to cancel last year’s rodeo, we still had the queen competition,” said Elks Recreation President and queen committee chairman Peter Sterling. “It was really difficult because the girls had to do all their fundraising virtually, but they did it. They raised a total of $440,059, which was amazing. I don’t know how they did it.”
Faith DeBrum led the way, raising $245,945 as the VTC Enterprises candidate. She was crowned queen on Sept. 25, 2020.
“I was honored to represent an organization that shares my values of doing all I can to bring strength, health and empowerment to all members of our community,” said DeBrum.
“VTC doesn’t have a queen candidate this year,” said DeBrum. “Because of COVID, they are just getting people back on campus. They’re hoping to be back next year.”
Mounted posses and marching bands, radio talents and local honorees, youth organizations and traditional parade floats will stroll, ride and glide down Broadway in true Elks Rodeo Parade tradition Saturday beginning at 8:45 a.m.
The queen campaign began in April 2020 and was supposed to run for the traditional six weeks.
“But because of COVID, it kept getting pushed back and it ended up being pushed back by seven months,” said DeBrum. “We sold a lot of raffle tickets and did drive-through events. We had some drive-through barbecue dinners and then people would go home and watch us on Facebook Live.”
Her biggest fundraiser included three separate raffles; one for a 2020 Corvette, another for a $2,000 Disney gift card and a third for a $2,000 Amazon gift card.
The queen campaign wasn’t DeBrum’s first fundraising effort.
Over the last five years, DeBrum and her family have raised nearly $300,000 to help with the battle against cancer.
“I’m a cancer survivor,” said DeBrum. “I was diagnosed in 2015 when I was 11. I’ve been cancer-free for six years. It was scary but I wouldn’t change a thing.
“We give the money to three organizations; the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Children’s Miracle Network and the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation in Santa Barbara. The money goes to help families who are going through what we did.”
DeBrum has been accepted to Grand Canyon University in Phoenix where she’ll pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
“From there I will pursue a career as a pediatric oncology nurse,” said DeBrum. “I am very passionate about community service and helping others who are vulnerable such as people with disabilities, those struggling to get or pay for medical care, and children with cancer.”
Although not a rodeo competitor, horseback riding is one of DeBrum’s passions.
“I’ve been riding with my family since before high school, when I was 14- or 15-years-old,” said DeBrum. “My family has always attended the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo and I grew up dreaming of becoming the rodeo queen.”
It was a friendly competition between the three 2020 candidates.
“I knew the girls before,” DeBrum said. “I went to school with Sabrina at Orcutt Academy and Anna’s mother (Pauline) was my second-grade teacher. I had one fundraiser with Anna but, because of COVID, we really didn’t get to see much of each other.
“It’s been a long time coming but I’m super excited to be part of this year’s Elks Rodeo and to get to see all the people in person this year.”
Dana represented the United Way of Northern Santa Barbara County.
Dana, 16, is a junior at Orcutt Academy who focused her campaign on improving literacy.
“I am very passionate about books and reading,” said Dana. “We raised money to benefit the Imagination Library, which gets books in the hands of young children, Reading Plus, which helps struggling readers catch up to grade level and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes for adults.”
Dana has also been involved with her school’s drama program and the PCPA’s Young People’s Project.
Dana plans to begin her college career at Hancock College and then transfer over to a four-year school with an eye toward a career in the medical field.
One of Dana’s favorite places is Nipomo’s historic Dana Adobe.
“It was built by my great-great-great grandfather, Captain William Cook Dana,” she said.
Kuykendall, 18, represented her high school, St. Joseph, in the campaign.
“I was honored to be St. Joseph’s first-ever queen candidate,” said Kuykendall. “I am endlessly thankful for everyone’s support. I was so excited to be a part of this campaign.”
In addition to her queen candidate activities, Kuykendall is involved in 4-H, Make-A-Wish, Special Olympics, Eco-Knights, California Scholarship Federation and is part of the school’s varsity cheerleading and competition cheerleading teams.
Kuykendall also volunteers at the Special Needs Ministry at First Christian Church.
“St. Joseph has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember,” said Kuykendall. “My mother, aunts, cousins, siblings have been part of the St. Joseph family for the past 40 years so I am raising money to give families financial assistance so their children can gave the St. Joseph experience.
“I am so excited to be a part of the Elks Rodeo Queen competition.”