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Editorial: These special individuals embody the Spirit of NM

The title “The Magnificent Seven” was already taken, so we’re going to call them worthy recipients of 2017 Spirit of New Mexico awards.

Sometimes overlooked amidst the tragedy, crime and partisan politics reported in local and national news are the stories of individuals who make extraordinary efforts to do positive things in our community. Since 2009, the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and the Albuquerque Journal have recognized the stories of such difference makers at the annual Spirit of New Mexico awards luncheon.

The six Spirit awards and one Harry Kinney Good Neighbor award for 2017 will be presented this Wednesday at the Albuquerque Convention Center. (Tickets are still available.) New Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller will give the keynote speech.

Our congratulations and thanks to each of this year’s recipients.

This year’s Spirit of New Mexico Award recipients

Laura Onorato worked tirelessly to ensure that Kyle Osborne, a youngster fighting an exceptionally rare cancer, got to meet his idol, basketball legend LeBron James.

Chaouki Abdallah became interim president of UNM in January and has steered the university through rocky times with thoughtful, even-handed decisions and diplomacy. When new UNM President Garnett Stokes comes on board in March, Abdallah will return to his previous job as UNM provost.

Donovan Smith, a teenager who has experienced homelessness himself, makes bars of soap at his Downtown storefront and donates them to the homeless.

Phil and Linda Oliveira founded the Freedom in Music Project, which brings guitars to youngsters incarcerated at juvenile detention centers in hopes of teaching them to play and provide a positive alternative to whatever led them there.

Marc Anthony Romero is a talented musician, motivational speaker and author who was born with a debilitating disease that affects his joints and requires him to use a wheelchair. He recently donated proceeds from a new album to Carrie Tingley Hospital, where he spent time as a child.


Larry Chavez is donating $10 million to UNM and gaining naming rights for The Pit for his company, DreamStyle Remodeling. A tenth of that donation is earmarked for UNM Children’s Hospital, Popejoy Hall and the Anderson School of Management. Chavez, a longtime supporter of UNM, contributes to other local organizations, as well.

Tickets available

WHAT: Spirit of New Mexico Awards luncheon

WHEN: Dec. 13, noon to 1:30 p.m.

WHERE: Albuquerque Convention Center, Ballroom A (upper level, west complex), free parking in Convention Center parking structure off Martin Luther King Jr. and Broadway

HOW MUCH: $50 for Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce members, $60 for nonmembers

RESERVATIONS: or call 764-3754


This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.