On the weekend of Sept. 24-26, the 22nd annual Sheriff’s 2021 PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) Rodeo took place at Glen Helen Park in Devore.

As riders vied for a place on the leader board in the arena, an honored guest was treated to a dream of a lifetime.

San Bernardino County Deputy Sheriff Amy Kennedy and Deputy Sheriff Carlos Ortiz provided a VIP experience for Anaya Garcia and her family. Anaya is a sixth grader from Chino.

Having battled cancer, Anaya was chosen to be a participant of the Golden Circle of Champions.

Anaya loves horses, and she has wanted to be near horses and to see how they are.

“Anaya has always loved horses,” said Jessica Garcia, Anaya’s mother. “She’s been obsessed with them for a long time.”

The Golden Circle of Champions honors and supports children that are dealing with life-threatening cancer. The Golden Circle of Champions cause was created by the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo, in Santa Maria, Calif.

Anaya’s family was chosen from the PRCA-sanctioned rodeos that took place throughout the year.

As a member of the Golden Circle, Anaya and her family were treated like champions at the Sheriff’s Rodeo.

According her mother, Anaya had a tumor on her right femur, as a result of bone cancer.

“My daughter is so strong,” said Jessica. “I am proud of how strong she is, for being so young.

“The horses and this experience have definitely helped her keep her mind free of all the pain and difficult experiences that she’s been through.”

The Garcia family met and dined with rodeo royalty and rodeo champions.

“I got to meet queens last night,” said Anaya. “This is my first rodeo, ever, and I love it.”

Anaya was thrilled at the prospect of seeing and being with the horses.

“I like this very much,” said Anaya, wearing new cowgirl boots. “There are a lot of horses. They are really big.”

At the end of the rodeo season, the Garcia family will be invited to attend the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, as part of being in the Golden Circle of Champions.

Anaya also received gifts.

According to Deputy Kennedy, Anaya will be provided therapeutic horseback riding to help her as she recovers.

“The sheriff’s department worked in conjunction with the Loma Linda Children’s Hospital and the Debbie Chisholm Foundation to make Anaya’s dreams come true,” said Ortiz.

Ortiz, a deputy sheriff from Rancho Cucamonga, was delighted to participate in working with the Garcia family.

“It’s great to see a spark ignited in her eyes when she is watching the horses,” said Ortiz. “It was neat to watch the family have fun.”

Ortiz is proud of his work and the being involved as a volunteer with sheriff’s department.

“This is what we do as deputy sheriffs. We help our community,” Ortiz said. “It makes me happy to see how these children thrive and still enjoy life, no matter the circumstance.”

Ortiz was impressed Anaya’s determination and courage.

“I’m amazed with her resilience,” said Ortiz. “She is just one ball of positive energy. It’s really incredible.

“When she gets up from sitting, she forgets about her leg and what she’s gone through having cancer.”

Before the rodeo started, U.S. Marine Corps guardsman corporal Gregory Lerebours was riding his golden palomino inside the arena. Anaya was watching him.

Lerebours is part of the Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard, based in Barstow. He was kind enough to bring his horse close to the rail for Anaya to see.

After Lerebours left, Anaya said, “His horse is so pretty.”

The Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard accompanied the U.S. flag and the U.S. Marine Corps flags to present the colors before the rodeo started.

“Anaya had just completed treatment, and she is recovering from a painful surgery,” said Jessica. “The road to recovery for her will be a long one.”

Regarding Anaya’s wish becoming a reality, Jessica said, “I am so grateful that she was able to have this experience with the horses. It meant a lot to her and to us. She really loves horses.

“It was very thoughtful what everyone did for my daughter. We appreciate what all the groups did to make my daughter’s wish come true.”

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