TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – A local family is working with the Downtown Topeka Foundation to honor one of their own.
Teresa Cuevas founded one of the first ever female Mariachi bands, Mariachi Estrella. Her family is now honoring her with the first ever statue of a woman to grace Kansas Ave.
“Artists like applause and I consider this statue kind of us applauding her,” Emilio Cuevas, Teresa’s son said. “And I know when she looks down from the heavens she will say thank you for the honor we are giving her.”
Her family said she was a talented musician, music ran in her blood, but all artists know it’s the challenges you face that make you stronger.
In 1981, two walkways collapsed at the Hyatt Regency in Kansas City. The tragedy made national headlines when the accident killed 114 people and injured nearly double that. Cuevas was among the injured, along with the rest of Mariachi Estrella.
“When they went to the Hyatt of course you know there was tragedy,” said Rosemary Mentzer, Teresa’s daughter. “She kind of felt guilty that she was saved and some of the younger ones who had small children were lost.”
Her children said the accident gave her a newfound destiny to continue the music and keep her Mexican heritage alive for the community and her family.
“My older son started learning the violin and he played with the mariachi’s. She formed another group and this group had males,” Rudy Cuevas, Teresa’s son said.
Teresa passed away at 93-years-old in 2013, but her inspiration has lived on. This is why her family wants everyone to know about the amazing woman that she was.
The statue is set to be placed at Evergy Plaza on Kansas Ave. around September or October. This is just in time for Hispanic Heritage Month. If you would like to contribute to the statue or follow along for updates the family has created a Facebook page.