Cristian Rivera Foundation
2018 April Newsletter


March 2018 Newsletter
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March 2018 NewsletterMarch 2018 Newsletter

Cristian Rivera Foundation 2018
April Newsletter

As we enter the season of new growth in nature, we’re also celebrating the growth of our foundation. We’re halfway through April, and busy is the word of the month here at the Cristian Rivera Foundation!  As the warm weather approaches, so does our first ever Cristian Rivera Foundation 5K Walk and Run.

The 1st Annual Cristian Rivera Foundation 5K Walk and Run will be held on Saturday, June 9, 2018, at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, 15 minutes from Manhattan and the George Washington Bridge.  The registration process will begin at 8:30 AM and the Run/Walk will commence at 9:00 AM. This event will raise money to increase public awareness of DIPG, as well as raise funds that will provide financial support to families and medical facilities that conduct innovative research and clinical trials. Take a stand against DIPG with us by sponsoring, participating, volunteering and donating in the 1st Annual CRF “Full Steam Ahead” 5K. You can help us continue our progress and give hope to more children and families affected by DIPG. Take a stand against DIPG with us by getting involved the 1st Annual CRF “Full Steam Ahead” 5K.

How Do I Get Involved?

  • Run or Walk in 5K. The entry fee is $25.00 and will include a 1st Annual Cristian Rivera Foundation Full Steam Ahead 5K Run/Walk t-shirt. We encourage all CRF 5K participants, to fundraise a minimum of $250.00. If you fail to meet the quota, you will still be able to participate in the 5K and take a stand against DIPG. To sign up to participate in the 5K please visit
  • Become a Virtual Participant in the 5K. Want to participate but live outside the Tristate area or going to be out of town? Become a Virtual Participant! The entry fee is $25.00 and will include a 1st Annual Cristian Rivera Foundation Full Steam Ahead 5K Run/Walk t-shirt. Our foundation asks for all Virtual Participants to take a picture with their t-shirt and e-mail it to for display on our website. We also encourage all CRF 5K participants, to fundraise a minimum of $250.00. If you fail to meet the quota, you will still be able to participate as a Virtual Runner/Walker in the 5K and take a stand against DIPG. To sign up as a Virtual Participant in the 5K please visit
  • Create a Team.  Each team member is required to pay the $25 entry fee and will receive a 1st Annual Cristian Rivera Foundation Full Steam Ahead 5K Run/Walk t-shirt. We encourage each team member to fundraise a minimum of $250.00. If any team member fails to meet the quota, they will still be able to participate in the 5K and take a stand against DIPG. To create a team and take part in the 5K please visit
  • Join a team. You’ll be able to raise funds for DIPG along with your family, friends and colleagues. Each team member is required to pay the $25 entry fee and will receive a 1st Annual Cristian Rivera Foundation Full Steam Ahead 5K Run/Walk t-shirt. We encourage each team member to fundraise a minimum of $250.00. If any team member fails to meet the quota, they will still be able to participate in the 5K and take a stand against DIPG. To join a team and take part in the 5K please visit
  • Sponsor the event. To sponsor the 5K please visit
  • Become a Volunteer. To become a volunteer for the 5K please visit
  • Donate. Help support raising funds for DIPG by donating. To make donations please visit

Just remember that signing up to get involved is just the first step – fundraising is what makes the difference!

Our foundation would like to acknowledge some longtime supporters and the Sponsors for the 1st Annual CRF “Full Steam Ahead” 5K. A big thank you to Rivera Marketing and Media Group for becoming a Platinum Sponsor for the 1st Annual CRF “Full Steam Ahead” 5K. The Little Kernel, Joule Entertainment and Weill Cornell Medical Center for becoming Gold Sponsors. Medicare & Medicaid Advisory Group and Calle Ocho for becoming Silver Sponsors. Lastly, CarePoint Health for becoming Bronze Sponsors. All of these sponsors have continuously supported our foundation and we truly appreciate their efforts. If you are interested in Sponsorship/Advertising opportunities go to for details. Deadline for Sponsorship must be in before Friday, May 25th, 2018 at 5 p.m.

Sponsoring, participating, and volunteering in the 1st Annual CRF “Full Steam Ahead” 5K isn’t the only way you can get involved. You can also purchase silent auction items that are available for bidding on We have a great variety of things such as an NY Yankees on field experience and an autographed Marc Anthony microphone. Also, our past items have included Four (4) Premium Tickets to see Frankie Valle at the Mohegan Sun Arena, plus a meet and greet and a 5 Course Italian Cooking Class at your home for 10 People, with Renown Chef Nick Lucci. These auction items are incredible and one can purchase them in efforts to eradicate DIPG.

As one can see, whether you are sponsoring, participating, volunteering, donating or purchasing auction items, you are helping in making a difference. Help us make 2018 the year we say goodbye to DIPG. We thank you for your continued support and look forward to helping those affected by DIPG with your help.

Stay tuned for updates on our upcoming events by visiting our website at You can also view our gallery and sign our guestbook to let us know you stopped by! “Full Steam Ahead”

Our MissionThe mission of the Cristian Rivera Foundation is to help find the cure for

Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), an inoperable
and incurable brain stem tumor.

What is DIPG
(Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma)?

Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma or DIPG, is a Rare, Inoperable Brain Stem Tumor that predominantly affects children between the ages of 2 and 10. Only 200-300 cases are discovered in the United States each year and because there is no cure, it’s young victims only have an average of 3-18 months to live, after they’ve been diagnosed. There are NO SURVIVORS.

Who is
The Cristian Rivera Foundation?

The Cristian Rivera Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) Non-Profit Organization that works tirelessly, in order to raise awareness and funds to one day put a STOP to this disease. The Cristian Rivera Foundation funds the work of Dr. Mark Souweidane of Weill Cornell Medical Center – Memorial Sloane (Kettering) Cancer Center and Dr. Oren Becher of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital and the Lurie Cancer center at Northwestern University. Both Doctors are conducting promising research and trials that have shown promising results. We are CLOSE to a CURE!

How Can You Help:
  • Help us by making a Donation.
  • Every Donation Big or Small, will help us achieve our goal.
  • Help spread the word to your family, friends and Colleagues.
Thank You again and may this be the year we say goodbye to DIPG,
(Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma),
Cristian´s Journey
A Story Inspired by John “Gungie” Rivera, “Forever Cristian´s Daddy”
Cristian's Journey

Written by John “Gungie” Rivera
and Robert Vazquez

>>Follow Here to Pre-Order
your Copy Now<<

$5 for Shipping & Handling

Proceeds from the purchase of
“Cristian´s Journey” will be donated to support
D.I.P.G. research and trials at
Weill Cornell Medical Center. Thank you for bringing us closer to a cure.

The Cristian Rivera Foundation

John “Gungie” Rivera
(Founder of The Cristian Rivera Foundation & “Forever Cristian’s Daddy”)

Board of Directors:
Andy Epstein and Darlene Rodriguez.

Committee Members:
Aldo Marin, Alex Garcia, Carlos Colon,
Carlos Yepez, Ed Martin, Elis Pacheco,
Fernando Ferrer, Jarrad Seuferling,
Jesse Allison, Kenan Thompson, Louie Vega,
Luis Guzman, Meiling Macias Toro, Nirav Patel,
Paul Pristavec, Rafael Toro, Ramon E. Javier,
Robert Vazquez, Steve Cox, Tony Ferrara
and Vito Bruno.

Vicky Estrella

Committee Friends:

Ben Velazquez, Dr. Manuel A. Moran,
Dennis Rodriguez, Edward Caban,
Mark Rosner, Modesto Lacen, Pablo Diaz,
Robert Dominguez, Teddy “Tedsmooth” Mendez
and William Pla.

Honorary Committee Members:
The Late Anthony Mason
and The Late Miriam Colon.

Ami Ferrara, David Rodriguez,
Ginalisa Monterroso and Karla De Epstein




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Copyright © 2018 Cristian Rivera Foundation, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Cristian Rivera Foundation PO Box 656. Edgewater, NJ 07020

Cristian Rivera Foundation Awarded
Platinum Seal from GuideStar


The Cristian Rivera Foundation is continuously working hard to create awareness, fund groundbreaking research, and trials, and economically support families impacted by DIPG. In result of our hard work, our foundation was awarded the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar, as a demonstration of our commitment to nonprofit transparency and accountability. GuideStar is the non-profit industry leader in analysis and public information and issues their rating based on transparency and the positive activity conducted in the non-profit sector.

Our foundation has worked hard to showcase our progress towards our mission, and our long-held belief in being transparent about our work. Here at the Cristian Rivera Foundation, we’re proud to have received the prestigious Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar. We know that Guidestar is a useful tool for donors and we will continue to update the profile to make sure it’s an accurate representation of the work we do. As a GuideStar Platinum participant, we will use their platform to share a wealth of up-to-date information about our work to their immense online audience of nonprofits, grantmakers, individual donors, the media, and to our supporters.

We at the foundation encourage you to check out our profile on GuideStar to see what we’re all about. Stay updated with our exciting initiatives, as we are thrilled to have another platform for communicating our advancement and progress. Click here to view the Cristian Rivera Foundation GuideStar profile.

We would like to thank everyone who has supported our foundation by attending, sponsoring, and donating. Without you, our foundation wouldn’t have received such a reputable title. Make sure to subscribe to our newsletters to stay updated on our upcoming events.



Cristian Rivera Foundation is honored to have received the 2018 Top-Rated Great Nonprofit.


The Cristian Rivera Foundation has been honored to have received the 2018 top-rated status from GreatNonprofits, the leading provider of user reviews of nonprofits. GreatNonprofits is dedicated to inspiring and informing donors and volunteers about nonprofits, and enabling nonprofits to show their impact. The Top-Rated Nonprofit Award is the based on the ratings and number of reviews that the Cristian Rivera Foundation received from volunteers, partners, educators, and families for outstanding performance. “This award is meaningful to us as it is based on the personal experiences of our volunteers and supporters. Our foundation is so humbled to not only have impacted the lives of those affected by DIPG but some our volunteers as well” said Founder John “Gungie” Rivera.

All of us at the Cristian Rivera Foundation would like to extend a special thanks to all our supporters who have helped us earn this very prestigious award. Receiving the 2018 top-rated status from GreatNonprofits is truly special because only a small percentage of nonprofits get this award. We are proud of our accomplishments and will continue working hard to raise DIPG awareness in honor of Cristian Rivera.

Click here to view our page on GreatNonprofits and leave a review.

Once again No Growth,
No activity on Lisha Ayala’s Feb 2018 MRI

CRF BREAKING NEWS- The Cristian Rivera Foundation is pleased to announce that Lisha Ayala received her quarterly MRI results and she has shown No sign of Tumor Growth. What does that mean? It means that your generosity has helped us underwrite the clinical trials that she is participating in. It means, that for the last 5 years Lisha Ayala has been able to grow into a young adult and show the world that we can beat DIPG. Your support, your generosity and your dedication to the Cristian Rivera Foundation has made Lisha’s journey possible! We thank you, Lisha Thanks you, and the families impacted by DIPG thank you.

7 Time Grammy Nominee/Grammy Winner/
Cristian Rivera Foundation Committee Member Louie Vega

Get in the Mix

Louie Vega

Thanks to a change in the rules, remixers are now getting credit for their impact on music culture.

Remixes are a major part of the way music evolves in the 21st century. They build bridges between genres and they connect cultures around the world. Now Spotify is making some changes designed to give remixers the credit they deserve.

For the first time, streams of remixes will count toward the remixer’s monthly listeners. (This update applies to all songs with a remix credit dating back to the beginning of 2015.) Remixes are also now eligible to appear in the Popular and Latest Releases sections of the remixer’s artist profile—a feature you may have noticed since it was rolled out in October 2017. Finally, remixers will now get access to song-level insights for their remixes in Spotify For Artists, giving them unprecedented access to data reflecting how fans engage with their music.

These improvements are all about recognizing remixers for their artistry, so to mark the changes, we got on the phone with Little Louie Vega, one of the most celebrated remixers of all time. One half of the pioneering house duo Masters at Work (along with his partner Kenny “Dope” Gonzalez), Louie has remixed some of the biggest names in popular music: Michael Jackson, Donna Summer, Madonna, Chic—the list is practically endless. He’s currently up for a Grammy Award for his “Roots Mix” of Loleatta Holloway’s posthumously released song “Can’t Let You Go.” It’s the second year in a row that he’s been up for a trophy; he was nominated last year, in the Best Dance/Electronic Album category, for his album Louie Vega Starring… XXVIII. All in all, this is his sixth time on the ballot, and in 2005, he won the award for Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical for his remix of Curtis Mayfield’s “Superfly.”

We asked Louie (born Luis Ferdinand Vega Jr.) about his favorite remixes over the years, along with what makes a great remix—and one tantalizing commission that he regrets having turned down.

Congratulations on the Grammy nomination. It must feel nice to be up for the Loleatta Holloway song, as kind of a tribute to her.

Little Louie Vega: She’s our queen, man. She’s the icon. She’s the one of the most sampled voices in history. I was lucky enough to get this song from Yvonne Turner, who produced her in her later years. She had one of the last songs she recorded, which never came out, and she brought it to me. I loved Yvonne’s mixes—her production was amazing, but I said, let me do something, you know, just to give it another flavor.

You’ve remixed some of the biggest artists in the world. Are there any remixes you think of as being major moments in your career?

The remixes we did for Incognito, on Talkin’ Loud. I like when we took artists from different genres and did something powerful that affected the dance scene. When we did Roni Size’s “Watching Windows,”that was a beautiful piece that broke barriers and went in different areas.

You guys have always been a bridge to the dance floor from a whole range of different styles.

We did Afro Celt Sound System, a group Sinead O’Connor worked with. We love what we did with that. You know, all these groups from different scenes, it could have been a rock record, a jazz record—we weren’t afraid to take chances. That’s what we love to do: take something from one place and bring it into our realm.

Back in the day, remixes were a major part of the music industry: Every record got a remix. How have things changed for remixed since then? Do you feel like the major label remix is starting to make a comeback?

Remixing was the thing in the ‘90s and it was huge, a lot of those remixes were getting astronomical fees. These days, most remixes, you just do them to do them. For me, I produce records now, that’s what I do: I’m a producer. Of course, I remix things that I would love to put my touch on. Right now I’m remixing two unreleased songs that Luther Vandross recorded when he did the Never Too Much album back in 1981. To me that’s a big challenge, so I jump on stuff like that. The remixing thing is a lot more on spec. These days, you let go of an acapella and if the record is big, everybody’s going to try to do a remix of it, from an amateur to somebody established. It’s almost like a free range right now.

When you’re doing a remix, how important is it to you to stay true to the original song?

A lot of the time, we did a version that stayed true to the original song, and then we did dubs with a vocal hook or a musical hook and all this new music. The thing with remixing is that you have the freedom to build a whole new musical foundation underneath the singer, and that’s what allows you to take it to that other place. It allows you to take an artist that has never set foot in a club, and now their song could be the biggest song in clubs around the world.

What do you listen for when deciding whether or not to remix a given song?

Something’s really got to catch my ear. I’ll give you a perfect example. Back in the early ‘90s, we did a remix for Saint Etienne’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart.” If you listen to the original song, that dub really had nothing to do with the song. We took some small vocal hooks and we built this new track around it. But you still knew that it was kind of Saint Etienne. You have to have something from the song that is catchy and that’s what we always looked for. If we heard something like that, we would do it. Sometimes you would find the weirdest songs that didn’t really work as a full-club mix under, so we would do these dubs that would still keep some of the identity of the artist.

Are there any songs that you would ever say no to remixing because they’re just too untouchable to perfect as is?

Yeah, of course, man. Kenny and I said no to some of the biggest artists back in the day if we didn’t feel that we could do justice to the song. I’ll never forget, back in the early ‘90s, when we were asked by Atlantic Records to do a remix on a Mick Jagger song . And I just felt that we couldn’t do to the song what we really wanted. Trust me, we wanted everything to work with Mick Jagger. He’s the greatest, you know what I mean? But we felt like we were going to do our thing to it, and it wasn’t really going to sound like it was his song and melody. So we passed on it and I’ll never forget, I got that phone call. He was in a video shoot and he called my home. I couldn’t believe it was him. I actually was saying, “This is not Mick Jagger.” And he kept saying, “This is Mick.” I heard the accent and everything. I said, oh goodness, it is him. [Laughs] He’s calling about the remix that we just said we couldn’t do! I’ll never forget that.

Is there a little part of you that now regrets saying no?

I regret it 100 percent. What I know now, I definitely could’ve done some justice to it, no matter what. Sometimes we would request for singers to come in and re-sing. We thought having them in the studio, we’re really going to take it to another place. We did it with Donna Summer, may she rest in peace. We did it with Tito Puente, we did it with Jocelyn Brown, Bebe Winans. So many different artists, we suggested they come into the studio and they would get new ideas and it would become this beautiful piece.

It sounds like remixing is a very holistic process in that sense.

One of our special qualities is that we really know how to get the best out of artists in the studio. We’re feeding off each other all the time.

Do you think remixers get enough credit from the public for their work as artists in their own right?

I don’t think the normal person gets it, but somebody in the dance scene or the hip-hop scene, they understand what a remix is. But even then I don’t think most people realize how much would go into creating a remix. The perfect way to show somebody—let’s say one of my family members said, what do you do when you remix a record? So I’ll say, “Listen to the original and now listen to my remix. What you hear right here, that’s not in the original. That’s what I did.”

Can you remember the first remix that made an impression on you as a listener?

Walter Gibbons, Francois Kevorkian, Larry Levan—back in the late ‘70s, early ‘80s, they didn’t really redo all the music like we do. They would take the original song and strip it down, dub it, do all these wonderful things with it, which was an art as well. They didn’t just take an acapella and compose music under it. They were stripping down the records and creating new arrangements and putting effects on them. One record that really blew me away, because I got to work on it, was Loose Joints’ “Is It All Over My Face.” We did a project for West End where we did a mix of the catalog, and we also remixed like 20 of their songs. One of them was “Is It All Over My Face.” When we put on the record, we were like, wait a minute, it doesn’t sound like the version Larry Levan did. And then you started realizing the magic that Larry had.

What are some of your favorite remixes that you’ve done over the years?

Wow. Let me think, let me think. It’s a pretty big catalog—we’ve probably recorded over 2000 pieces of music. “Can’t Hide Love” by Earth, Wind and Fire. We took a ballad, a slow jam, and we did we did a really nice house remix to it. That’s one. “Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You,” a remix I did for Funkadelic. Also “Dance,” by 3 Winans Brothers featuring the Clark Sisters, definitely that one. Oh, I got another one. “Ran Kan Kan,” a song by Tito Puente. That was very challenging because imagine you got to take a 1950s record and create a house remix, you know what I mean? We really worked hard on it and it came out really great. Actually, that little hook, that’s Marc Antony singing. Nobody even knows that.

Which remixes of your own work by other people have most impressed you?

The best one, and it’s one of the top remixes of all time, is when 4 Hero did “Black Gold of the Sun” for us for Nuyorican Soul. That’s a great remix. We were so happy when we got that remix.

Have you been able to grow your fan base by people discovering your music through your remixes?

Yeah that happens all around the world. It’s crazy because now, on Spotify, when you look up Louie Vega, it’s got so much music of mine, so it’s really wonderful that you’re able to explore, you know what I mean? I’ll tell you my Spotify story, because I just did this thing. You know the cabaret law in New York was repealed, right? I did this project called Dancing in New York 1926-2017 My publicist came up with this idea: He said, why don’t you go and pick 91 songs for the 91 years the law was in place? So I did my homework. It’s like I went to school, I learned so much about music from the ‘20s, ‘30s, and ‘40s that I never knew before, through my research on Spotify. And I created this playlist. It opened up a whole new world for me.

It’s amazing to be able to go back over that many decades of music and teach other people about it. That archive is there at people’s fingertips to explore, and to have people like you help make sense of it is really inspiring.

It’s funny, because the music that I was picking, when I talked to friends that were schooled in this kind of music, they told me that those were game-changing songs. The ones I picked, at least a couple from each decade, had changed the music scene, which was kind of weird. I just happened to pick those songs from what was catching my ear, you know what I mean? As you skim through it, you can hear the changes—the sounds and recording quality and the orchestration, or how the music went downtempo then more uptempo, that kind of thing. You look at the music from the ‘20s and ‘30s and you see this big-band music that was like what house music is to us today. That was their dance music.

Follow Here to learn about
7 Time Grammy Nominee, 1 Time Grammy Winner
and Cristian Rivera Foundation Committee Member,
Louie Vega

Kenan Thompson Wants A-Listers Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise on ‘SNL’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Nickelodeon’s golden child Kenan Thompson was recently named Saturday Night Live‘s longest-serving cast member, and in an exclusive interview with In Touch, the All That star revealed who his dream guest hosts would be. We can’t lie — these are some pretty solid choices!

“Lots of people. It would be cool if Eddie Murphy came back. I say that a lot, or like Denzel [Washington], Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise — any of those dudes that haven’t done it yet that you feel like they should have totally,” Kenan shared. When asked how he celebrated such a milestone, the Kenan & Kel alum candidly replied, “By working! That’s the biggest accomplishment of it all. It’s good to keep that in focus — that’s the whole point of it.”

Kenan on Saturday Night Live. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Kenan on Saturday Night Live. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

In Touch caught up with Kenan at the 2017 Cristian Rivera Foundation Ninth Annual Celebrity Gala last week at Capitale in NYC — which according to a press release, “is dedicated to finding a cure for this disease so that no child or family suffers through the horrors of DIPG again. To date the organization has raised more than $850,000 to support the groundbreaking research of Dr. Mark Souweidane of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Medical College and Dr. Oren Becher of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital and the Lurie Cancer center at Northwestern University and to support children and their families while they face DIPG.”

Kenan is close with the organization’s founder, John “Gungie” Rivera — who unfortunately lost his son Cristian to the disease. “I’ve known John for years. We used to meet when he used to promote clubs and stuff like that and I knew his son, Cristian,” he stated. “We fell out of touch for awhile then I caught back up with him a few years ago and he told me what happened to Cristian and told me about the foundation and I’ve been involved since then — like, six or seven years ago.”

Kenan Thompson with the Cristian Rivera Foundation founder, John "Gungie" Rivera.
Kenan Thompson with the Cristian Rivera Foundation founder, John “Gungie” Rivera. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

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