|RJ the Clown sits on the floor telling her story at a recent gathering of Carbon Historical Society members. RJ just celebrated her 15 years as a clown serving|
"It is hard to believe that I have been clowning for 15 great years." says RJ the Clown. "It seems like only yesterday that I put on my rainbow wig, makeup and tied my red sneakers on."
RJ was living in Huntington, when she first started clowning.
"I didn't even know the first thing about clowning, I just knew I wanted to make a difference in a child's life."
She read a few books on how to be a clown but there was so much more than what is in a book. One day when RJ was washing clothes there was a man washing his clothes. While he was waiting for his clothes to wash and dry he was blowing up balloons.
"I asked him if he had been doing balloons very long, and he replied, for 20 years. I told him that I wanted to be a clown and we started to talk some more."
The man asked RJ what kind of clown she wanted to be.
"I said 'You mean there is more than one kind?'" He laughed and said, " Yeah there are four kinds." RJ told him that she just wanted do make a difference in a child's life. He told her that she would make a great clown. He then asked what kind of clown face she wanted, "And I said a cute one."
He said a good face is a KISS face (keep it simple sweety). Then he asked if she had thought of a name. "I said I like RJ," she explained and he told her that his name was Turk the clown.
"He taught me a lot," said RJ, "and I am very thankful that he did."
There is one other clown that helped her out. Happy the clown was a Shriner clown who met RJ when he was in Price while she was clowning for the International Days parade.
RJ says, "he was so nice, he had his clown face on and his whole outfit and shoes were the coolest. I thought to myself, I would like to be a clown like him."
He and RJ were cute clowns. Happy gave her a pin of himself and told her to always clown from the heart. "Just a few weeks ago he passed away," she said, "I am going to miss him, in my eyes he was the father of clowning."
Clowning from the heart is what RJ has done for 15 years. "I love to clown," she says, " but one thing I have always done is made sure I put God and my family first. I have been very blessed in all these years to have people watch me grow into the clown I am today."
RJ has worked with some very special kids, like Spencer Roundy, a great kid that was struggling with cancer.
"It was hard," she said, "but he was a fighter all the way, and he touched me so many ways."
RJ remembers them sitting down, playing and laughing. She took him to a Mark Wills concert at CEU and he really liked it when Jeff Keele came up and took some time to talk with him.
"One of the things I remember the most was taking Spencer to Carbon High and asking Nichole Woodword for help. She had all these teenagers asking what they could do to help raise money to help Spencer. There was not one dry eye when we lost Spencer a few years ago," remembers RJ, "But just before he died we had a party for him." They knew he wasn't going to last very long so they had Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Huntington Fire Dept and the Emery County Sheriff all come over.
Another child that made an impression on RJ was Misti Downard, age four.
"I met her in Castle Dale when she was three and she liked RJ the clown, just not balloons."
RJ taught her to keep her thumb up when she was down or felt like she could not do anymore.
"It would always put a smile on her face," remembers RJ. Misti liked to make sandy candy so they would sit down and she would put powder candy in a tub and make it for everyone. "About a year ago we lost Misti to cancer also."
RJ has a lot of little fans like Ronnie. Ronnie always finds RJ in a crowd and has a hug for her. One day RJ was invited to her birthday and Ronnie was dressed up just like RJ.
RJ not only does clowning for kids, but she goes to rest homes and visits and cheers up the elderly people.
Looking back on her clowning, RJ can say one thing.
"I have never been bored and I love to clown." There is always show-n-tell reading to kids. Clowning is one of the best things for the little ones in the hospital.
"That is where you will find RJ the clown with her smile on at 7 a.m. in Castleview Hospital. It sure is fun to see the kids. I have been clowning in the hospital for 15 years."
Dr. Brian Peterson has been working with RJ for the past three years.
"It really makes a difference seeing the kids' faces when RJ comes around the corner," she says
Besides the hospital RJ has also clowned at churches, the relief society, for job carriers, Woodward Home Health, and Dr. Shane Taylor. A little girl was once so scared at Taylor's office that RJ talked to her and told her that he had worked on RJ's teeth.
RJ has also met many celebrities over the years. Some of these celebrities include Tracy Byrd, Aaron Tippen, Kevin Sharp, Toby Keith, 38 Special, Gary Allan, Mark Wills, the Bellamy Brothers, INSYC and Brittany Spears.
Other highlights include attending the clown convention. "It's there where I have learned so much on how to improve my clowning and it really makes me a better clown, " she explained."
"I love it when a person comes up to me and says, can you teach me how to clown?" RJ asks them why they want to be a clown? "If they say, 'So I can make some money,' I just walk away, because clowning is not about money, it must come from the heart."
RJ is a four-time awarding-winning clown and teaches clowning through the western part of the country.
"It's a lot of fun to try to better yourself and my two daughters also clown with me," she adds.
One thing RJ always wanted was to have a coloring book. With the help of her friend, Noodles, he donated the art work for her RJ the clown fan's coloring book.
And what about RJ the clown's voice?
"One of the things that people are really amazed with is my voice." she explained. "They ask me if that is my real voice. I remember at the Olympics most people thought it was great to hear me, because they could recognize me in a crowd."