By Raiza Giorgi

As this year’s Santa Ynez Valley Youth Recreation Queen, Madi Bramsen hopes to bring a different flavor to the annual fundraising effort.

“I hope to bring both my Spanish and my Danish heritage together for this year’s campaign,” she said.

“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, and I can’t wait to kick off this campaign,” said Madi, 17, of Santa Ynez.

The bubbly teenager is fifth-generation in the valley as her great-great-grandparents on her mother’s side came to the valley.

Madi said she gets her sense of style from her great-grandmother, Martha Gonzalez.

Her great-grandparents, Ray and Martha Gonzalez, are still very much alive. During Madi’s interview with the Star even, they walked by the Valley Grind coffee shop and popped in to say how proud they were of her.

“She is such a joy, and we are so proud she was chosen queen. She will do a great job,” Martha Gonzalez said.

“Growing up here with all my family is awesome. My mom, aunts, grandma and great-grandma and I are so close, and we all love fashion and being flashy. We definitely get our sense of style from her,” Madi laughed.

The Gonzalezes own the Western-style building on Sagunto Street that is the office of Joe Olla Realty. She said that building was a bar at the turn of the century.

Madi laughed and said her destiny to become rec queen started when she was a little girl and her parents were told, “Someday your daughter could be the Youth Rec Queen.” She was thrilled when that prediction came true this year, and she hopes she can achieve as much success as prior queens.

SYV Youth Rec has raised more than $3 million in the past 62 years for local youth programs and facilities and has funded many projects at the high school, fields at local elementary and middle schools, and the baseball and soccer fields 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 at the high school’s farm, and completed renovations of the baseball fields and softball fields.

Youth Rec continues to sponsor 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.

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 pigs 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.

The kick-off event for this year’s campaign will be Saturday, April 28, at the Santa Ynez Valley Equestrian Center.

For more information on SYV Youth Rec, log onto The schedule of Madi’s fundraising is listed there, along with information about attending events or donating.