Con Alma Health Foundation is recognizing two heroes of health this year — Noah Blue Elk Hotchkiss who started the Tribal Adaptive Organization when he was 17 to provide adaptive sports to Native youth with disabilities, and Tina Cordova, Albuquerque resident and co-founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, which advocates for restitution to New Mexicans overexposed to radiation.
“The Foundation is so proud to honor this year’s heroes, who exemplify what it means to be a change agent and positive force in their community,” said Denise Herrera, PhD, Con Alma’s executive director.
Con Alma honors people each year who are committed to improving the health of their New Mexico communities. We will donate $1,000 each to the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium and Tribal Adaptive Organization in Kirtland on behalf of Cordova and Hotchkiss.
Hotchkiss became deeply depressed when a car crash resulted in paralysis at age 11. He had thrived in sports and couldn’t find value in life anymore — until adaptive sports transformed his life. He went on to win multiple national championships in wheelchair basketball and mono-skiing. Now he’s changing other people’s lives — building their confidence and helping them identify as athletes rather than “disabled.”
“As time passed, my dad and I noticed the lack of opportunities available to other Natives with disabilities,” he said. “We decided to start Tribal Adaptive to make an impact and to use sports to change Native lives the way it changed mine.”
Tribal Adaptive in Kirtland uses sports as a tool to impact the overall health and wellbeing of Natives living with disabilities. The organization supplies Native youth with adaptive equipment, opportunities to compete in sports, media coverage of games, and sports scholarships. For more information about Tribal Adaptive, visit https://tribaladaptive.com/.
“We are so inspired by Noah’s leadership journey, the Foundation is creating a ‘youth track’ to honor a local youth hero annually who helps to improve health and well-being in his or her community,” Herrera said.
Cordova is a seventh-generation New Mexican and co-owner of Queston Roofing and Construction in Albuquerque. She has volunteered her time since 2005 to bring attention to the devastating effects of nuclear testing and uranium mining near her hometown. A cancer survivor, Cordova said she has lost count of how many people in her life have died from cancer.
“Their lives mattered, and I will never stop fighting to make certain their histories are told and acknowledged,” she said. “Our government owes us reparations and healthcare coverage, at the very least. Everyone in our state needs to know and understand this history.”
Cordova has testified before the House and Senate multiple times and has been a guest lecturer at universities in New Mexico, Colorado, and California. The Consortium’s ultimate goal is to convince Congress to support expanding the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act to provide healthcare coverage and restitution to New Mexicans who have been overexposed to radiation since 1945. For more information about the Consortium, visit https://www.trinitydownwinders.com/.
“Tina Cordova has turned a catastrophic part of our nation’s history into an opportunity to educate and inform the general public and federal and state legislators,” Herrera said.
Visit our website to learn more about this year’s heroes: https://conalma.org/2022-heroes-of-health/