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Four honored as 2018 NM True Heroes

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — One person founded a resource organization to help people and families with cancer, another founded an organization to provide veterans with recreational and therapeutic activities, another supports and finances community improvements via her job and private life, and another, struck with ALS, helps raise funds to help others with the disease.

bright spotThese four people on Tuesday were honored by Gov. Susana Martinez as recipients of the 2018 New Mexico True Heroes award.

This is the fifth year of the awards program. This year’s recipients are:

Yolanda Diaz lost her father to cancer and was unable to find local resources in the Las Cruces area to help families like hers cope with all the related expenses that come with that diagnosis. So Diaz started her own nonprofit, Cancer Aid Resource and Education, or CARE, to provide a physical location for local cancer patients to go for services or assistance, and to support cancer patients by providing nonmedical expenses and basic living needs expenses while they are in active treatment for any type of cancer.

Since 2009, the volunteers at CARE have raised more than $600,000 to aid in their mission.

Kym Sanchez of Taos, is an Army veteran who held the emotionally exhausting role of coordinating memorial services for 188 service men and women killed in combat – including her own husband who was killed in Baghdad.

“Kim did not let her own pain hold her back. She took action in her grief and created the Not Forgotten Outreach, a nonprofit that provides care to veterans and their families through recreational and therapeutic activities,” Martinez said.

Since its inception in 2013, the program has served about 5,000 veterans and their families throughout northern New Mexico.

Robin Brulé, of Albuquerque, is the senior vice president at Nusenda Credit Union where she created tools to help New Mexicans find financial stability, and has played a key role in advancing community improvement efforts through support and financing, Martinez said. Brulé serves on multiple boards and commissions in Albuquerque, most notably as the chief strategist for Albuquerque’s broad-based integration initiative, City Alive.

Gene Pino, was born and raised in Belen. He worked for the Albuquerque Public Schools, where he coached sports, and later served as a board member for the New Mexico Activities Association and the New Mexico Sports Hall of Fame. In 2011 Pino was diagnosed with ALS, a progressive disease that has robbed him of his physical abilities and impaired his speech. Now an active member of the New Mexico ALS chapter, Pino offers his leadership and positive attitude to raise funds for ALS educational and outreach programs.

This year’s honorees will be recognized at the 2018 New Mexico Bowl both during the players’ luncheon on Dec. 14 and on the field during the game the following day.

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