Toña Rivera was born and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was born with Cerebral Palsy. Even though she was born in Albuquerque, she calls herself Mexican because her family is from Mexico. She graduated from Valley High School in 1999.
After High School, Toña volunteered at Carrie Tingley Children’s Hospital for nearly four years. She worked in the recreation room, supervising the children. She was simultaneously going to the Carrie Tingley Hospital for therapy. It is there where Toña met her physical therapist and her liflong friend, Mary Beth Schubauer. In 2001, Ms. Shubauer started a wheelchair sports camp which was called the “Muthu Berry Wheelchair Sports Camp”, and later known as “Beyond Limits Sports Camp”. Toña volunteered with the camp for over ten years. She co-taught power soccer and bocce ball. She was in charge of setting up the climbing wall event, as well. After camp was over, Toña was in charge of setting up The Ability Experience/ Journey of Hope event for the same group of campers. It was through this wheelchair sports camp where she met her great friend and current Board Member, Christina Davidson.
Toña is a dancer and visual artist as well as the Founder of the non-profit, Every Ability Plays Project. She cannot speak or use her hands and uses a wheelchair for mobility and a computer to help her speak. In 1999, she discovered dance through the Keshet Dance Company. In 2005, she was able to travel to Eugene, Oregon to receive the “DanceAbility” teacher certification. She also began painting in 2005. She paints with her left foot! Since then, she has transitioned to scupting with clay by using a head pointer. From 2003 through 2020, she attended the North Fourth Art Center, which was associated with VSA Arts of New Mexico. It was there that she danced with the Buen Viaje Dance Company, a mixed abilities dance company. In 2014, Toña founded Every Ability Plays Project, a non-profit that purchases special playground equipment for children with disabilities. In 2020, she became a master teacher in DanceAbility.
“I got this grand idea from watching a lady on TV. Philanthropist, Wallis Annenberg, who donated a lot of money to get an accessible tree house in California. I thought to myself, why can’t we have something like that in Albuquerque? Miss Annenberg was my inspiration in wanting to create the Every Ability Plays Project.”