Damian’s father, Cesar Gomez, said his son is pretty shy at first, but he completely opens up once he gets to know someone.
In his new hat, courtesy of Jedlicka’s, Damian was all smiles Thursday as he explored the store with his family and chatted with the bull riders.
Damian has loved watching bull riding on television since he was 4 years old, according to his mother, Mariana Gomez.
Despite that, she said, they’ve never seen it in person, so Thursday night’s show at the Earl Warren Showgrounds was a new experience for the whole family. They were excited to cheer on the cowboys and get a behind-the-scenes tour, given by the Old Spanish Days Fiesta Stock Horse Show & Rodeo.
Cowboys Ryan Dirteater, Rocky McDonald, Chase Outlaw and Sean Willingham shared stories of broken bones and their many years of riding bulls with the crowd, which Damian said was his favorite part of the afternoon.
“You just deal with the pain and suck it up — it’s only eight seconds,” Willingham said.
Cesar Gomez said the family has been going through Damian’s battle with Hodgkin’s together, and it will be nice to share a fun night as a family. He said they often walked by Jedlicka’s Saddlery on their way to get food while Damian was a patient at Cottage Children’s Hospital, sometimes for months at a time.
The wish was granted through the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the efforts of many different local businesses: Jedlicka’s Saddlery; the Chi Omega Sorority at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo; Rancho Bowl Santa Maria hosted a bowling party for the Gomez family last week; SLO Farm Supply gave Damian boots, a rodeo dummy and a bale of hay so he can practice roping; Albertsons donated a cake for the bowling party; Mark Shelton donated tickets to the 2013 Cal Poly Rodeo; and Joyce Trevillan of Santa Barbara donated tickets to the Santa Barbara Zoo while the family stays in town.