2021 is Finally Here! January 2021 Newsletter

January 2021 Newsletter

A Look Back at 2020’s Highlights

2020 Raffles Meeting Meeting

2020 Raffle Project

Earned Guidestar Platinum and Great NonProfits Awards 3 Years in a Row

Meeting Meeting Meeting

New Board Members
Alex Arizmendi & Rena Kliot, Francesco Quattrone & Alberto Torres

Maggie Meehan's Fundraising Event 3rd Annual Virtual 5k 3rd Annual Virtual 5k

Maggie Meehan’s
Virtual Fundraiser

3rd Annual CRF Virtual 5K

Emiliano Emiliano Emiliano Emiliano

Meeting and Helping DIPG Warrior Emiliano

Dr. Mark Souweidane Dr. Oren Becker

Year-End Support to our Medical Partners

Cristian Rivera Foundation 2021
January Newsletter

Cheers to a new year! Our foundation has been around since 2009 and has been leading the way in supporting DIPG families and finding a cure for this horrific tumor. Every single day for over 12 years, we’ve been creating ripple effects that have revealed more and more about the puzzle that is DIPG. We’re proud of how far we’ve come. 

We have experienced many ups and downs this year. Due to COVID-19, we were unable to host some of our main fundraising events. Our annual August boat ride was canceled, as well as our yearly gala that was supposed to take place in November. These are two important events for us and we missed seeing all of our supporters at them.

Even through these difficult times, we still experienced many positive moments in 2020 as we continued to move “Full Steam Ahead” towards a cure for DIPG. Our foundation was awarded the Guidestar Platinum award and Great NonProfits award for the third consecutive year and in the months of February and March, we conducted our annual raffle to raise funds and awareness of this serious illness. 

We soon found ways to adjust to the challenges. In May, one of our board members, Maggie Meehan, hosted a Cardio to Zen-Virtual Workout Fundraiser. This was a two part, back-to-back class held over Zoom. The first class was a fun cardio kickboxing session followed by a relaxing and muscle-toning Pilates class. It was a wonderful event that brought people together (while we were apart) in support of DIPG. 

Then in July, we had our first ever Virtual CRF 5K due to the global pandemic. This turned out to be a great success due to the participation and commitment of our board members and supporters. This year we were able to raise the most amount of money that we’ve raised at one of our 5Ks yet and that is all thanks to you!

Virtual 5K

Perhaps one of our greatest joys was meeting three-year-old Emiliano and his family in October. He was diagnosed with DIPG in May and started experiencing symptoms in March. We were able to help Emiliano receive treatment on Dr. Souweidane’s clinical trial in New York City and are continuing to support him on this challenging journey. 

The month of January is always a sad one for The Cristian Rivera Foundation. First, Cristian was diagnosed with DIPG on January 21st, 2007 and lost his Battle to DIPG just two short years later on January 25th, 2009. Cristian would have been 18 years old had he been alive today. In honor of Cristian, our foundation will continue working the “Full Steam Ahead” mentality until we eradicate this disease from our world and no family has to suffer through the process of dealing with a child with DIPG.


We would like to take the time to express our gratitude to some key players within our Foundation. Thank you to our Board of Directors, Board Members, and our generous donors. Thank you all for your support, your deep desire to find a cure for DIPG, and your genuine fellowship at our 2020 virtual events. 

This year we had the pleasure of welcoming a handful of board members to our team who have proven to be incredible supporters of our mission. We’re grateful to Alex Arizmendi, Rena Kliot, Alberto Torres, and Francesco Quattrone for all of your hard work. Congratulations on your first year! You can get to know our new members by following cristianriverafoundation.org/board/ and reading their bio by clicking on their headshot. We are currently on the search for new Board Members for 2021, if you are interested please contact us for more information.

Though it was a tough year for all of us, we were elated to provide our year-end donations to our medical partners, Dr. Mark Souweidane and Dr. Oren Becher. At this time, their dedication to helping children and uncovering more about DIPG has been challenged more than ever. As long as this disease exists, CRF will stand behind doctors who are working hard to find a cure – through thick and thin.
Thank you to the doctors for all you do.

You can be a part of the journey of finding a cure for DIPG, and make 2021 the year we say goodbye to this horrible disease. Simply stay connected with us. Join us at our events, share our journey with your family and friends, and please donate to the cause. 

Our Mission

The 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),


The Cristian Rivera Foundation

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

Board of Directors:
Carlos Yepez and Darlene Rodriguez.

Committee Friends:
Alberto Torres, Edward Caban, Ed Martin,
Maggie Meehan, Mark Rosner, Melinda Colon Cox,
and Vanessa Rodriguez.

Ben Velazquez, David Rodriguez,
Dr. Manuel A. Moran, Karla De Epstein,
Michael V. Narvaez, and William Pla.

Chairman of the Board:
Andy Epstein

Committee Members:
Aldo Marin, Alex Arizmendi, Alex Garcia,
Carlos Colon, Elis Pacheco, Fernando Ferrer,
Francesco Quattrone, Jarrad Seuferling,
Kenan Thompson, Luis Guzman,
Meiling Macias Toro, Paul Pristavec, Rafael Toro,
Rena Kliot, Steve Cox, and Vito Bruno.

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


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Copyright © 2021 Cristian Rivera Foundation, All rights reserved.

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