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Golden Circle of Champions

The Golden Circle of Champions, in conjunction with Las Vegas Events, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, Red Bluff Round-Up, Santa Maria Elks Rodeo and Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation, will honor 20 children and their families fighting life-threatening cancer during the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

Founded in 2016 in conjunction with the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo, the Golden Circle of Champions was conceived to raise awareness and provide funds to help those children who are battling cancer. Through donations and fundraising efforts, support is provided directly to the families to fulfill their most urgent needs: paying bills, buying medicine and caring for their family.

What started at the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo has made its way to Las Vegas to continue the vital mission of the Golden Circle of Champions. Ten local Las Vegas families along with 10 families chosen from PRCA-sanctioned rodeos from across the country were treated like champions at rodeo-themed activities in their honor. Each of the 20 families in attendance included a child between the ages of 6 and 14 years of age who has been diagnosed with a life-threatening cancer or associated illness.


While in Las Vegas, the children and their families were honored at the Golden Circle of Champions Banquet at the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa. The children dined with rodeo champions, received special gifts and learned about the sport of rodeo. All honorees attended the Wrangler NFR at the Thomas & Mack Center where they cheered on their favorite cowboy or cowgirl. Julian was paired up with Team Roper Jade Corkill and they are now buddies for life!

Julian had a great time in Las Vegas

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Julian Castillo

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Here is Julian's story as told by his father, Jose: I will never forget the day that I heard the words “Your son has cancer.” In 2017, my son Julian was diagnosed with Leukemia. My world started to spin as Julian was hospitalized and went into liver failure at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. Intubated and on a dialysis machine with almost no chance of surviving, we hoped and kept faith that Julian would make it through.

With the help of some amazing doctors and the support of our family, friends, community, and Jacob’s Heart, Julian is now in the maintenance phase of his treatment. As my family adjusts to life outside of the hospital, we have found comfort in being able to celebrate Julian for being a survivor.


Julian is 9 years old.

2018 Golden Circle of Champions- History

2019 Golden Circle of Champions Las Vegas
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The California Rodeo Salinas was selected to participate in the first ever Golden Circle of Champions (GCC) trip in Las Vegas this past December. The GCC originated in Santa Maria at the Elks Rodeo and is now going national. Ten rodeo committees selected a child who was a cancer patient or survivor to travel to Las Vegas for an exclusive luncheon with Wrangler National Finals Rodeo contestants and one performance of the WNFR.

We selected 6 year old Isabella (Bella) Varela who is a survivor of a rare cancer. Read her story, written by her mother, Nancy, HERE. Bella survived LCH at a young age. LCH or Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis is a type of cancer that can damage tissue or cause lesions to form in one or more places in the body.

Watch the video to the left that recaps the events in Las Vegas. Bella and her family had a wonderful time and we look forward to participating in the GCC again in 2019 at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.


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