The Cristian Rivera Foundation Mission Statement

Cristian & John at the Pool
On January 22, 2007, I received the worst news of my life. My 4-year-old son, Cristian, was diagnosed with an inoperable Pontine Glioma brain stem tumor, which generally affects kids 1 to 9 years old. It has no cure and it also has a life expectancy of 3 to 18 months. Cristian’s battle for his life lasted 2 years and a few days (passing away on January 25, 2009) but the new battle in honor of his new life has begun.


Cristian, I love and miss you dearly. Ever since you passed away, I committed myself to help find a cure for this deadly disease so that no other family would have to go through the grief of losing their beloved children. In keeping with this commitment, I have created the Cristian Rivera Foundation in your honor.

– John “Gungie” Rivera, Founder of the Cristian Rivera Foundation and Forever Cristian’s Daddy


The mission of the Cristian Rivera Foundation is to help find the cure for the Pontine Glioma brain stem tumor that ultimately claimed Cristian’s young life. The Cristian Rivera Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization that donates all monies raised to hospitals and foundations actively researching cures for Pontine Glioma through medical trials and scientific research. The foundation has already contributed $700,000 to the research of Dr. Mark Souweidane of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the Director of the Weill Cornell Medical College Pediatric Brain and Spine Center. Dr. Souweidane, inspired by his patient Cristian Rivera and other children and their families affected by devastating childhood cancers, launched a pioneering FDA-approved clinical trial in 2012 that introduced a surgical component to the treatment of children with Pontine Glioma for the first time. The innovative use of convection-enhanced delivery (CED) is the first of its kind to administer radio immunotherapy to children with an otherwise incurable tumor.


The Cristian Rivera Foundation also supports the research of Dr. Oren Becher of Duke University. His lab builds mouse models of Pontine Glioma tumors in order to better understand the makeup of these tumors, specifically the genetic alterations that are most important to inhibit therapeutically.


The Cristian Rivera Foundation is dedicated to supporting promising, innovative research like this in pursuit of a cure.