Three-Time Winner: Dr. Mark Souweidane Extends His Fight Against DIPG


In a new milestone in the fight against DIPG, Dr. Mark Souweidane this week performed a direct infusion of a cancer-fighting drug into the brain of a young patient — for the third time. The child was the first ever to receive three infusions, all at the highest dose level in the trial.

The six–year–old, who was diagnosed with DIPG in January of this year, joined Dr. Souweidane´s clinical trial in June, when he was treated with an interstitial infusion (also called convection–enhanced delivery, or CED) of a drug intended to stop DIPG´s usual relentless progression. By delivering the drug directly into the tumor site, Dr. Souweidane avoids the difficulty of getting that drug across the defensive blood-brain barrier. (See more about the trial.) The child received a second infusion in July, and then was treated for a third time this week.

“He´s recovering beautifully,” said Dr. Souweidane of the patient. “An MRI immediately after the infusion showed excellent drug distribution in the brain stem and no unexpected findings. More importantly, he is himself. When I spoke to him the day after his treatment and asked what he wanted to be for Halloween, he told me he wanted to be Darth Sidious.”

Several children have been treated twice in the trial, but Dr. Souweidane says this child was doing very well, with no disease progression, which boded well for a third treatment. The patient’s parents were also persistent in their drive to have their child treated again.

“They´re already asking about a fourth treatment,” says Dr. Souweidane. The first phase of the trial ended this summer, when the 27th and final patient was infused for the first time, but the FDA has approved repeated treatments as an extension of the trial.

It´s too soon yet to tell whether and how the repeated infusions will affect the ultimate course of this uniformly fatal disease. But Dr. Souweidane says there’s no reason why other children who were treated already, even at the maximum dose level, can´t be treated again. He´’s energized by these latest treatments, and is already looking ahead to the future.

“Each of the three infusions contained the seventh and highest dose level tested in this trial,” says Dr. Souweidane. “The ability to tolerate three infusions in such a short time, and of the maximum dose, paves the way for one of the possible next steps in this avenue of investigation, which could be to implant an infusion system to deliver the drug without repeated surgery.”

Whatever the next steps are, Dr. Souweidane promises to be at the forefront of the research.

Read the blog of Three-Time Winner: Dr. Souweidane Extends His Fight Against DIPG, click the link belowweillcornellbrainandspine.org/in-the-news/three-time-winner-dr-souweidane-extends-his-fight-against-dipg

Meet Lisha, Lisha was diagnosed with D.I.P.G. almost 4 years ago!



Lisha is a patient of Dr. Mark Souweidane at Cornell Weill Medical Center and currently enrolled in OUR trial to find a treatment and eventual cure for D.I.P.G.

On Wed, September 21st, 2016, we learned that the results from Lisha’s last MRI were stable with no growth!

Lisha is living proof that the Cristian Rivera Foundation along with Dr.Mark Souweidane and his team at Weill Cornell are making strides in finding a cure for D.I.P.G.

Please help us cure this disease by making a tax deductible donation and raising awareness about our small foundation that is doing big things in the Cancer Community.

Remembering Our Little Angel Cristian Rivera´s 14th Birthday


Today, 9/13/16, would’ve marked Cristian Rivera´s 14th birthday.  The Cristian Rivera honors him by raising awareness to help rid the world of D.I.P.G.  Every child should have an opportunity to grow and leave their mark on the world.

Please help us by making a tax deductible donation and/or sharing this email with your friends, family & colleagues.

Due to the tireless efforts of Dr. Mark Souweidane and Dr. Oren Becker and their dedication to the Pediatrics Neurosurgery community, we are close to curing D.I.P.G.  YOU may be the difference we need to change the world!

Dr. Souweidane Treats Final Patient in Groundbreaking DIPG Clinical Trial



Dr. Mark Souweidane today treated the final patient in his Phase I clinical trial of convection-enhanced delivery (CED) for diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG). The trial, which had enrolled 31 patients over the past four years, was designed to test the safety of CED as a means of delivering a cancer-fighting drug directly to the site of a DIPG tumor. (More about the DIPG trial.)

The trial received FDA approval in late 2011, and the first patient was treated in May 2012. (Read “Cheering for Caitlin,” a profile of the first patient.) Since then, 30 children have received infusions of a therapeutic agent called 124I-8H9, which consists of the 8H9 antibody (produced by mice and effective against many kinds of tumors) combined with the radioactive substance 124I. The dosage of the drug was increased over the course of the trial, also testing safety, but no dose-limiting side effects occurred in any patient.

The infusions, which were done at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, were able to deliver the drug directly to the brain stem tumor and were not blocked by the body’s protective blood-brain barrier, which normally prevents chemotherapy drugs from crossing from the bloodstream into the brain in sufficient concentrations to attack a tumor. In this trial, Dr. Souweidane was able to achieve concentrations of 1,000 times or more than what can be achieved with IV chemotherapy. He was also able to design and test new ways to measure those concentrations at the tumor site and monitor how long the drug stayed in the tumor.

Dr. Souweidane and his team will spend the next several months evaluating the data and preparing the results for publication. In the meantime, researchers in the Children’s Brain Tumor Project laboratory have been working to pave the road for the next stages of the trial. Other drugs and drug combinations are being tested to determine what the best agents are to infuse, and at what dose levels. DIPG cell lines are also being grown in the lab, providing a rich source of information about how the tumor mutates over time and responds to different treatments in vitro as well as in animal models. (More about the Children’s Brain Tumor Project.)

Read the blog post written by Dr. Souweidane after he treated the final patient in the trial, click the link below www.weillcornellbrainandspine.org/dipg-new-beginning

Minnesota Boy with D.I.P.G. meets his favorite Power Ranger in California thanks to Little Kernel Popcorn Company & Cristian Rivera Foundation

The Cristain Rivera Foundation & The Little Kernel Popcorn Company
The Cristain Rivera Foundation & The Little Kernel Popcorn Company

Minnesota Boy with D.I.P.G. meets his favorite
Power Ranger in California thanks to Little Kernel Popcorn Company & Cristian Rivera Foundation

At The Cristian Rivera Foundation, our primary goal is to assist in finding a cure for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma. Our Foundation also plays a critical role in supporting families that are impacted by D.I.P.G. By pulling together all of our resources to make dreams come true.

Such is the case when the founder of the Cristian Rivera Foundation,
John Gungie Rivera, learned about Allen Xiong’s wish to meet the blue Power Ranger.

Allen is an 8 year old boy who was diagnosed with D.I.P.G. Just like most children his age, he loves The Power Rangers and his dream was to meet his favorite Power Ranger- the Blue Power Ranger. John contacted the CEO of The Little Kernel Popcorn Company, Andy Epstein. He also contacted Craig Serra who also serves as a board of directors for The Cristian Rivera Foundation & “JOINED FORCES” with Robert Vazquez, a Cristian Rivera committee member, and Like the Power Rangers, they all “JUMPED INTO ACTION” and started the process of making Allen’s wish come true.

This past weekend The Cristian Rivera Foundation and
The Little Kernel company fulfilled Allen’s wish when he came
with “Yoshi“, the talented actor who plays the
Blue Power Ranger at the Pasadena Morphicon Power Ranger Convention.

After Allen met his favorite Blue Power Ranger here is what his family said- “Thank you CRF… Allen was sooo happy today when he met with Yoshi the Blue Dino Power Ranger… It made him speechless… He didn´t know how to speak anymore lol he was so shy and nervous that he forgot how to talk or move lol… We saw him yesterday at the Q & A but didn´t meet him yet… I didn´t know who Yoshi is until Allen point him out and say mom he´s the blue Dino power ranger.. I asked him how he know? He´s not him his costume? Allen response was that you got to be a big fan to know lol… This boy is too smart for me… Thank you from the bottom of our heart for making this dream come true.. Love Allen and family ♥♥♥”

We at The Cristain Rivera Foundation & The Little Kernel Popcorn Company are “Full Steam Ahead” in finding a cure and fulfilling dreams! Spread the word, support & help us get closer to a cure.

Learn more at CristianRiveraFoundation.org

Our Mission
The mission of the Cristian Rivera Foundation is to help find the cure for the Pontine Glioma 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 Duke University. Both Doctors are conducting promising research and trails 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), FOREVER!


The Cristian Rivera Foundation

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

Board of Directors of the Cristian Rivera Foundation:
Andy Epstein, Darlene Rodriguez and Craig Serra.

Committee Members of the Cristian Rivera Foundation:
Aldo Marin, Alex Garcia, Carlos Colon, Carlos Yepez, Dennis Rodriguez, Dolores Catania, Dr. Ben Velazquez, Dr. Manuel A. Moran, Elis Pacheco, Fernando Ferrer, J.I. Starr, John “JellyBean” Benitez, Kenan Thompson, Kim Medina, Little Louie Vega, Luis Guzman, Meiling Macias Toro, Miriam Colon, Nirav Patel, Robert Vazquez, Rafael Toro, Ramon E. Javier, Steve Cox, Tony Ferrara and Vito Bruno

Committee Friends of the Cristian Rivera Foundation:
Carlos Nazario, Edward Caban, Francisco Companioni, Funkmaster Flex, Jerry Chaparro, Mark Rosner, Modesto Lacen, Odalys Molina, Pablo Diaz, Paul Pristavec, Roberto Clemente Jr., Steven Rodas, Teddy “Tedsmooth” Mendez, Victor Martinez, and William Pla

Follow the Cristian Rivera Foundation:

facebook youtube twitter youtube

Oscar-Nominated Actress Abigail Breslin Donates $10,000 to the Cristian Rivera Foundation



The Cristian Rivera Foundation was honored this week to receive a generous $10,000 donation in the name of Oscar-nominated actress Abigail Breslin, star of such well-known films as “Little Miss Sunshine,” “August: Osage County” and “Ender’s Game.” Breslin was the honorary chair of the 2014 Julien Dubuque International Film Festival, which makes a donation each year to the chair’s charity of choice. Having known DIPG Angel Brooke Elizabeth Healey, Breslin understands the horrors of DIPG and earmarked the donation for the Cristian Rivera Foundation so that they may continue their important fight for a cure. Breslin, who may become a Cristian Rivera Foundation Committee Member soon, was presented with the check for the Cristian Rivera Foundation when she attended the Dubuque, IA-based festival on April 24th. Cristian Rivera Foundation Committee Member Elis Pacheco, who works with Breslin, personally delivered the check to Cristian Rivera Foundation Founder John “Gungie” Rivera. The Cristian Rivera Foundation is honored to have been chosen for this year’s donation and would like to thank Abigail Breslin and everyone at the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival for their support.

Former New York Knicks All-Star
Anthony Mason Donates $5,000 to the Cristian Rivera Foundation


Former New York Knicks All-Star Anthony Mason, a committee member for the Cristian Rivera Foundation, recently donated $5,000 to help the foundation find a cure for DIPG.

“I have four kids and I know that I never want to have to bury them,” said Mason, who earned the money from a promotional appearance for Cantor Fitzgerald. This is the latest appearance fee that Mason has generously donated to the Cristian Rivera Foundation in the past couple of years and the basketball great is just happy to do his part. “The Crisitan Rivera Foundation and its committee are like a family so when something happens to one of us, it hurts us all. So if I can put in my resources to cure DIPG, why not? I put in my time and I do what I can do.”

Mason will continue to support the Cristian Rivera Foundation on September 30th when he is set to attend the foundation’s Fifth Annual Celebrity Gala at Copacabana Supper Club and Outdoor/Indoor Event Space. For more information, or to purchase tickets to the Fifth Annual Cristian Rivera Foundation Celebrity Gala, please visit http://cristianriverafoundation.org/events.html.

John “Gungie” Rivera Receives Exciting News from DIPG Patient


Today, Cristian Rivera Foundation founder John “Gungie” Rivera received great news from Denise Downing, whose daughter Caitlin was the first patient in Dr. Mark Souweidane’s clinical trial. At the Fourth Annual Cristian Rivera Foundation Celebrity Gala, where Denise and Caitlin were guests of honor, Denise tearfully shared her story with the crowd and expressed her hope that her daughter would be readmitted into the trial while there was still time to help her. She called today to share the amazing news that her daughter has received the approval she needed and Denise thanked the Cristian Rivera Foundation for their help in making it happen

Cristian Rivera Foundation Committee Member
Anthony Mason Donates $15,000 to Help Cure DIPG


Cristian Rivera Foundation is happy to announce that Committee Member and former New York Knicks All-Star Anthony Mason recently donated $15,000 to the foundation to help find a cure for rare pediatric brain stem tumor DIPG. Mason, who named the Cristian Rivera Foundation his official charity, made the generous donation in return for promotional appearances he made on behalf of Steiner Sports.

“Being on the Cristian Rivera Foundation Committee means a lot to me,” Mason said in a statement. “I know what it’s like with my own kids and though you can never know what it’s like for someone to lose a child, I can only imagine since I know how I feel when my kids only get hurt. I want people to get involved and start doing the research to cure this disease because we as parents should not have to bury our children.”

Mason’s $15,000 donation is helping to fund a promising clinical trial that started in May 2012 at Memorial Sloan Kettering and Weill Cornell Medical Center. Dr. Mark Souweidane, the doctor spearheading the trial, is using convection-enhanced delivery for the first time to administer radio immunotherapy to children with an otherwise incurable tumor. Since May 2012, Dr. Souweidane has operated on two young children with DIPG tumors that, until now, had been considered inoperable. Both patients are continuing to do well after surgery and Mason’s donation will go a long way toward ultimately curing this deadly disease.