By Raiza Giorgi

This little rodeo clown takes making people happy very seriously. Nine-year-old Caleb Moon decided to go beyond what was asked of him, making custom blankets and raising more than $2,500 for children going through cancer treatments. 

National Finals Rodeo Barrelman JJ Harrison, left, with one of the Golden Circle of Champion recipient James Castellanos and Jr. Barrelman Caleb Moon.

“The kids going through their cancer treatments inspired me. I wanted to make something special to support them,” Caleb said. 

The third-grader at Solvang Elementary School earned the spot of Junior Barrelman at the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo this year, and he loved entertaining the crowds. 

“I loved telling jokes and making people laugh with my funny dances,” he said. 

The blankets and donations were presented to 20 children from Golden Circle of Champions at the National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in Las Vegas on Dec. 8. Caleb made the official donation in November to the Elks Rodeo officials. 

Golden Circle is a nonprofit founded in 2016 that partners with the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo. Golden Circle provides funds to help local children battling pediatric cancer and after the first year they were contacted by the NFR to expand their program. 

The children who are selected get to attend a dinner at the rodeo, meet many of the cowboys and cowgirls, and then get to watch the rodeo from a special reserved section in the grandstands. 

Caleb’s part at the event in Las Vegas is teaching the kids how to tell jokes and climb in and out of the barrel during a fun event Sunday morning. The kids also learned roping skills, participated in a stick horse barrel race and received a custom Resistol cowboy hat, buckle and Justin boots. 

Caleb decided to make the blankets because he knew the kids get a duffle bag of goodies they will take to treatments. The blankets are red, white and blue to match the patriotic theme of his Junior Barrelman face paint and rodeo outfit.

He found a blanket kit at a fabric store and ordered all 20 they had remaining. Over a period of two months he spent weekends and time after school putting them together with the help of his family. 

Peter Sterling, Elks Recreation president, was on hand for the presentation of blankets and $2,500 donation from Junior Barrelman Caleb Moon.

“Caleb made a presentation to the Alpha Pi Charitable Organization of Santa Ynez Valley about his project and they ended up funding the cost of the blankets,” said his mother, Robyn Christian Moon. 

They ordered patches to be sewn on the blankets from valley native Ian Palmer of Authentic Leather Patch Co., and when Moon asked for the invoice, she was told it was taken care of. 

Authentic Leather Patch Co. also donated hats to each of the participants with custom 2019 NFR Golden Circle of Champions patches.

Caleb said he was grateful for all the help in getting his goal accomplished. 

“Caleb also started a cash donation drive and made $2,500 that will go towards helping a local family for whatever help they need as their child goes through treatments,” she said. 

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 families.

“Our goal is to bring the much-needed education and awareness, locally and nationally, to pediatric cancer and offer a ray of hope to the families that are navigating through this journey. They desperately need our help as a community, and we want to let them know we are here for them,” said Golden Circle founder Tina Tonascia. “It is our job to tell their story about pediatric cancer, in the hopes that one day we will be able to make a difference.”

The Santa Maria Elks Rodeo holds a special place in Caleb’s family. His grandmother, Mindi Jaeger Christian, competed in the 1972 queen contest and his mother was the 2001 Santa Maria Elks Rodeo Queen. They both represented Santa Ynez Valley Youth Recreation during their campaigns. Even Caleb’s teacher last year, Jodi Rogers, represented the valley as the 1986 Santa Maria Elks Queen.

The Elks Rodeo has landed this past year on the 2019 PRCA ProRodeo tour, an elite list of 59 locations where the sport’s top athletes will compete for points.

To learn more about Golden Circle and this year’s events at the NFR, visit their Facebook page. 

For other rodeo-related activities and information, visit