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in memorial of
valentino rivera


The Lightning Boy Foundation was established in honor of Valentino 'Tzigiwhaeno' Rivera, a boy who couldn't stop dancing. Valentino participated in traditional pueblo dances, traditional hoop dancing, hip hop and break dancing. Son to George Rivera (former Governor of Pojoaque Pueblo) and Felicia Rosacker-Rivera, Valentino was involved in a car accident and suffered a traumatic neck injury that left him paralyzed, unable to speak or hardly move. He fought with valor to regain his cherished abilities but after 21 surgeries in 14 months, Valentino decided he wanted to go to heaven and encouraged his peers to dance on for his sake. He passed at the young age of 8, a sacred number in the Native community, and left a clear mission and vision to fulfill. In 2017 a year after his passing, the Foundation was named in honor of 'Tzigiwhaeno' which means 'lightning' in Valentino's Tewa language. It was co-founded by his mother, Felicia Rosacker-Rivera, and mentor/spokesman/artist Steve Larance (Hopi, Assiniboine) with Nakotah Larance as master instructor. In July 2020, the Lightning Boy family suffered another loss when Nakotah Larance was involved in an accident and also suffered a neck injury that took his life. The Lightning Boy Foundation intends to carry on the legacy of these Fallen Dancers and spread healing, power and inspiration across the world. 

Established after his passing on May 13, 2016, the Lightning Boy Foundation Inc. a 501(c)3 non profit organization, has become a means to pick up Valentino Tzigiwhaeno Rivera's story where he left off. Through his wishes, words and actions as guidance and in observation of his true passions in life, the mission of the Foundation has been established. His life  and work with family, community and dancing is how he wished to be remembered by those who knew him and those who will come to hear his inspirational story.

Lightning Boy Foundation is based in Valentino's home, the Tewa Pueblos of Northern New Mexico and is a non profit organization for those in the community who have an interest and passion for tradition, performance and visual arts. Through the Foundation's initiatives, boys and girls, of all ages, are given opportunities to learn various art forms. The Foundation has made the Traditional Hoop Dance that Valentino practiced and performed world wide, available to all tribal youth in the area.  The Hoop Dance continues to be known as a healing art form and is said to have it's origins in the Pueblos of Northern New Mexico. Throughout the year, the Hoop Dancers perform at various local events, travel to the outskirts of New Mexico and compete in their respective age groups at the annual World Hoop Dance Competition in Phoenix Arizona at the Heard Museum. Below is Valentino Rivera, age 6, in one of his numerous performances of his hoop dance at the World Hoop Dance Competition, Youth Division. 

The Foundation has also sponsored youth in other artistic endeavors, by granting youth funds to receive instruction and practice visual arts and other forms of performance arts.  It is the goal of the Foundation to create additional performance arts opportunities for the youth of the community in the near future. It is also the future goal of the Foundation to make visual and performance arts therapy available to meet goals set for physical, occupational, and speech rehabilitation for youth in need of such programming.

Through the work of the Foundation, the unstoppable energy and determination that ran through Valentino's veins, and through all his transitions in life, can now continue to flow through the tribal youth of his communities. 

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