Espanola Community ‘Welcome Home’ Planned For Roger Montoya, Finalist In 2019 CNN Hero Of The Year

191208220125-15-cnn-heroes-2019-show-super-169The 2019 CNN Hero of the Year is Freweini Mebrahtu, who designed and patented a reusable menstrual pad for girls in her native Ethiopia who do not have access to sanitary pads. Photo Courtesy CNN

Roger on screenHundreds of people listen to Roger Montoya, one of 10 finalists for CNN 2019 Hero of the Year, during a watch party Sunday evening at Buffalo Thunder Resort. Photo by Maire O’Neill/

Roger in New YorkRoger Montoya on set during rehearsal for the 13th Annual CNN Heroes All Star Tribute hosted by Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa, streamed live from the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Courtesy photo


A “Welcome Home” procession and reception is slated for Espanola for Roger Montoya of Moving Arts Espanola who made it to the 13th Annual CNN Heroes All Star Tribute held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City Sunday night.

A huge crowd of supporters from throughout Northern New Mexico gathered at a Buffalo Thunder Resort ballroom Sunday evening for a watch party for the man they consider a local hero. And although Montoya ultimately was not selected as the 2019 Hero in New York, he certainly was loudly acclaimed a hero at home in New Mexico.

Throughout the late afternoon and evening performers old and young took to the stage, including when commercials were being aired on the big screen set up for the occasion. The event was organized by Ralph Martinez and Andrea Lucero.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham honored Montoya with a statewide proclamation declaring Oct. 29, 2019 “Roger Montoya Art as Medicine Day.” The City of Santa declared through a formal proclamation Nov. 1 as its own “Roger Montoya Art as Medicine Day”. Rio Arriba County previously declared Sept. 24 as “Roger Montoya CNN Heroes Day” and the congratulations continue to pour in.

Javier Sanchez, Mayor of the City of Española, congratulated Montoya Sunday evening.

“I couldn’t be more proud of Roger Montoya. Not for making it to the top ten CNN Heroes of 2019, but for inspiring love and hope in the children of our gorgeous and plentiful valley,” Sanchez said. “He inspires love and beauty in every human being he encounters. And as a friend—he inspires me. To live stronger. To inspire greater and push to do more. Congratulations to Roger for being my Hero.”

Event organizers are Matanza chair Ralph Martinez and Rio Arriba County Commissioner Leo Jaramillo. “The welcome plan has people lining the roads from the entrance of Espanola (San Pedro Sonic) to the Oñate Bridge turnoff, which is a little past Lovin’ Oven,” Martinez said. “We will take a left turn towards Oñate Bridge. You can also line up along the road from the turnoff to the Oñate bridge or on MainStreet from the old Bloch-Salazar Mortuary to the Española Plaza.”

The procession will continue to the Rio Arriba Empowerment Center (old Alternative High) and end at the old Alternative High Gymnasium (now Cariños Gym) where a reception will be held until 4 p.m. with light snacks, hot and cold drinks served.