In March, young Valentino Rivera – son of former Pueblo of Pojoaque Governor George Rivera – was severely injured in a car accident in the Santa Fe area. He recently returned home after spending months in a rehabilitation center in Baltimore, and is slowly but surely making progress in his recovery.

On Tuesday night during RES New Mexico, the National Center hosted a silent auction and gala to raise money for Valentino and his family during their time of need. The event featured remarks from Olympic gold medal winner Billy Mills – a Native American and still the only American to ever win gold in the 10,000 meter – and performances from Valentino’s fellow hoop dancers. The auction was run by famed Native American auctioneer Ray Champ of the Crow Tribe in Montana. Of course the most important guest was Valentino himself, and his smile touched the hearts of all who were in attendance.

The gala raised $71,000, which will go a long way to helping Valentino in his time of need. Everyone in Indian Country is wishing Valentino and the Riveras the best as he continues to recover.

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