By Raiza Giorgi


Organizers were happy to announce that this year’s Santa Ynez Valley Youth Recreation Queen campaign raised more than $160,000, based on initial numbers.

“Our goal each year is to raise $150,000 and we are thrilled, but not surprised, as Madi’s family really poured all their efforts into this campaign,” said Frank Kelsey, executive director of SYV Youth Rec.

This year’s youth rec queen was Madi Bramsen, 17, of Santa Ynez. The bubbly teenager is fifth-generation in the valley. Here family has been here since her great-great-grandparents on her mother’s side came to the valley.

Attendance was up for all of the Santa Ynez Valley Youth Recreation campaign events this year, and organizers are thrilled that they exceeded their annual fundraising goal.

“My family knows just about everyone in the valley and we have a great time together. It was a party when everyone found out I got named queen,” Madi said in her first interview.

Kelsey echoed that statement, as the attendance numbers were up for every event from the kick-off dinner to the final barbecue at Nojoqui Falls Park.

“Madi brought a great energy, and she’s right that she has a lot of family, as both sides are longtime valley residents going back several generations,” Kelsey said.

Madi has been involved in Valley 4-H since she was 10 years old, and last year she won 4-H Grand Champion and Supreme Champion for her pig at the Santa Barbara County Fair. She also shows her pigs year-round all over the state through the Junior Livestock Association.

“I wish more kids could grow up in the valley like we do and appreciate it, because I know when a lot of us get out into the real world it will be a big shock to not see as many friends and relatives. Going to the grocery store is an ordeal, and I learned from my great-grandmother to never leave the house without checking my make-up because you always run into someone you know,” Madi laughed.

SYV Youth Rec has raised more than $3 million in the past 62 years for local youth programs and has funded many projects at the high school, local elementary and middle schools, and the baseball and soccer fields and sand volleyball courts at Sunny Fields Park, among other accomplishments.

When Ballard School was remodeled, for example, the group put in the basketball courts, ball fields and playground equipment. Youth Rec also contributed to the construction of the new barn facility at the high school’s farm, and completed renovations of the baseball fields and softball fields.

Youth Rec continues to sponsor the Youth Basketball and Summer Swim programs, support Arts Outreach youth programs, and maintain the support of local youth teams and tournaments in the Santa Ynez Valley and Los Alamos.

Plans for this year include installing more beach volleyball courts at local schools because the three courts at Sunny Fields Park that Youth Rec donated are always in use, according to Kelsey.

“We just installed one at Los Olivos Elementary and plan to expand that to the other valley schools as well, and of course support the pool project at the high school and local youth activities,” he added.

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