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Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with Hispanic and Latino stories from around the Valley

The period from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 looks to celebrate the contributions of families with roots from Spain, Mexico, Central America, South America, & the Caribbean.

ARIZONA, USA — Hispanic Heritage Month, the federally recognized time between Sept. 15 and Oct. 15, educates the public and celebrates the contributions of families with roots from Spain, Mexico, Central America, South America, & the Caribbean.

The observation started back in 1968, when President Lyndon Johnson instituted Hispanic Heritage Week. It was expanded to the current 30-day period by President Ronald Regan in 1988.

The first day of Hispanic Heritage Month is a significant date for Latin America. On Sept. 15, Latin Americans celebrate the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. 

Mexico and Chile also celebrate their independence days within Hispanic Heritage Month, with Mexico's on Sept. 16 and Chile's on Sept. 18.

During this celebration, 12 News is telling the stories and sharing the experiences of Hispanics across the Valley. 

Interested in getting Arizona news in Spanish? Be sure to like our 12 News en Español Facebook page here.

Valley family uses heritage to keep them tied to Arizona

A Hispanic leader in the Valley is helping shape the future of our community. To do so, he is building on a legacy in Arizona that goes back five generations. 

"I oversee a program called the Hispanic Leadership Institute," Adam Lopez Falk said. "This is a program that's been going on at Valle Del Sol for over 30 years."

Arizona currently has around 46 elected officials seated across the state who are graduates of the program, Falk said. And that's a trend he hopes to see continue.

"Arizona is enriched by Latino leadership," Falk said. "This state has a deep, deep history of strong Latino leaders."

Watch Adam Lopez Falk's full story here.

Valley radio personality speaks out about Hispanic heritage

Every morning people wake up, drive to work and head to school listening to Priscilla Ornelas.

The “Mathew & Priscilla In the Morning” show on Mix 96.9 is one of the most popular morning shows in the Valley. 

Ornelas said she never thought she’d have a platform – not only to connect over music, but also to share her life experiences and heritage.

“It's really easy to incorporate my culture in my show because it's who I am. I'm not shy about it; I am a proud Mexican-American,” said the radio personality.

Read the full story here

Long-time Arizona chef uses Hispanic heritage has been a recipe for success

Valley Chef Antonio Gordillo left Oaxaca, Mexico o at a young age, but brought his family’s love for food with him. 

Gordillo thinks community, family, religion, traditions and fiestas showcase Hispanic Heritage. Dia de Los Muertos is his favorite because of the food.

“What inspired me to be a chef is me growing up with my nana-her cooking from scratch, an open wood fire, just me watching her," said Gordillo.

Gordillo thinks community, family, religion, traditions and fiestas showcase Hispanic Heritage. Dia de Los Muertos is his favorite because of the food.

Read Chef Gordillo's full story here.

Air Force, National Guard vet recounts growing up Latino in Phoenix

Edward Murillo is an Air Force and National Guard veteran. 

His story of love and friendship stems from growing up as the only Latino in his east Phoenix neighborhood.

"My dad was the first Mexican-American piolt to fly over the state of Arizona," Murillo said. "Serving in the military, to me, is an honor to be a citizen of this great country."

Read more of Edward Murillo's story here.

Phoenix artist uses Latino culture to influence creativity

“What I was really, really missing was that local community, local connection," Valley creative Kathy Cano-Murillo said.

Cano-Murillo, better known as “Crafty Chica,” loves her Latino culture and art so much she decided to make a booming career out of it. 

Being a third-generation Phoenician, Kathy didn’t realize her culture was so unique because she was busy just living it.

“I just feel so deeply rooted here in Phoenix in our Latino community," Cano-Murillo said.

Read more of Kathy “Crafty Chica” Cano-Murillo 's story here.

Credit: Instagram

Phoenix man brings the cuisine of Puerto Rico to the Valley

“Everybody likes the culture; Puerto Rican culture is a mixture of all different backgrounds," Wesley Andujar, the owner of Puerto Rican Latin Bar & Grill, said.

Andujar has been serving up Puerto Rican to Phoenix for nearly a decade. 

Puerto Rico is a U.S. colony, but it's also considered part of Latin America. Anduajar called Puerto Rico the "island of enchantment“ saying that everybody likes to go there and have fun. 

Even during spring training season, you’ll see a variety of baseball players getting a taste of what feels like a home-cooked meal at the restaurant.

Read more of Wesley Andujar's story here.

The Tamale Store sends message of love to the Valley

12 News is honoring Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrating the contributions of Hispanic Americans to Arizona. 

We’re taking a look at a restaurant– known for its Mexican food, and one that's also spreading a message of positivity across all cultures.

The Tamale Store owner, Pauline Pimienta, says they painted a mural reading, "Humanity is my race. Love is my religion. Peace is my weapon," on their store wall. 

Read more about the mural here

Phoenix family shares family salsa recipe with the Valley

12 News is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, so we're introducing you to a South Phoenix family turned entrepreneurs. 

They're ready to share their grandmother’s salsa with everyone. But to them it’s more than just a family recipe -- it’s a connection to their roots.

It’s a flavor that takes Nina Stokes back to her childhood.

She has recreated the family recipe with Loca Madre Salsa, which she launched in 2017.

Read more about the family here

Credit: Jen Wahl

Arizona Coyotes President, CEO Xavier Gutierrez

Team 12's Vanessa Ramirez tells the story of a man who came from Mexico and rose to become one of the highest-ranking sports executives.

Read more here.

Fair Trade Cafe in Phoenix

Team 12's Vanessa Ramirez introduces us to the woman behind Fair Trade Cafe in Phoenix and how she's helping other Latino-owned businesses thrive.

Read the full story here.

Superintendent of the Tolleson Elementary School District

Dr. Lupita Hightower, the superintendent of the Tolleson Elementary School District, is an inspirational woman who can definitely relate to her students.

Read her story here

Maria Sanchez on the DREAMer generation

Maria Sanchez arrived to the U.S. when she was young and never left. Now she's fighting for DREAMers.

Rito's Restaurant has been serving authentic Mexican food since 1977

Generations of one family have kept up Rito's Restaurant in the Garfield neighborhood. This Phoenix spot has kept it authentic.

Read more here.

Mariachi is a way of life for a Valley family

Tatiana Pena's Mariachi roots stem from her dad. He came to the U.S from Honduras in the '70s to study the violin at ASU.

Read more here.

Doctor says Mexican women's prayer inspired him to enter medicine

Dr. Eric Cornidez says his parents and his community were a big inspiration to learn medicine. He is thankful for his Hispanic heritage.

Read more here.

Vanessa Ramirez on what she values about Latino culture

On the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month, 12 News' Vanessa Ramirez is talking about what she values most about her Latino culture.

Hispanic Heritage Month in Arizona

We're telling the stories and sharing the experiences of Hispanics and Latinos from across the Valley. See all of our coverage on our 12 News YouTube playlist.

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