Cristian Rivera Foundation

Vanessa Rodriguez

Vanessa Rodriguez is a New York Real Estate agent serving both Westchester and the Bronx. She has known our founder John “Gungie” Rivera for many years, well before the Cristian Rivera Foundation was formed. Vanessa even had the pleasure of meeting Cristian a year before his passing. When the foundation was first started, she would participate, attend, and donate at many of the fundraising events. After creating a stronger friendship with John, he presented her with ways that she could help the organization in a more meaningful way. 2017 was the year that she became an official board member and it was more than a pleasure for her to join our cause.

Vanessa is very interested in bringing awareness to DIPG and believes that promoting awareness is the best thing we can do aside from raising money, since many have not yet heard of this horrific disease.

One of her favorite parts about the organization is the personal connection that we have with families affected by DIPG. She loves meeting the families and understanding how much of an impact DIPG has on them and being able to witness the human component behind the foundation. This fuels her enthusiasm and passion to help. Vanessa hopes that one day there will be a cure and we won’t have to see any other family suffer from DIPG. When asked what success looks like to her Vanessa said, “Success is happiness. People should always be in a pursuit to find what makes them happy. Do what you’re passionate about.” As for success within our foundation, she has real hope that we will find a cure and see more survivors in the next decade.

Being a board member is a big commitment, but Vanessa believes it’s very important for everyone to find a way to give back to society. “No matter how busy our lives are, we can always find some way to give back”, says Vanessa. Since she has been friends with John for so long, she already felt a connection to the foundation and decided to put more time and dedication into it. Her main goal as a board member is to raise more money than the year before, since this is what’s needed at the end of the day to fund DIPG research. Vanessa believes that to be a good board member, you must have a genuine passion for the cause and a desire to give back to society. In addition, Vanessa feels that board members should not only attend CRF events and donate, but also create their own events to support the foundation and help bring awareness as much as possible. Members should always be coming up with new ideas on how we can bring more people in and incorporate new board members to the team. Vanessa spreads awareness by having one-on-one conversations with people who are genuinely interested to learn more about DIPG and what these families go through.

Our Annual Celebrity Gala is one of Vanessa’s favorite events because she has the opportunity to meet families who are currently battling DIPG, along with families who have lost a child and hear their story directly. Another one of Vanessa’s favorite events is our Annual Full Steam Ahead 5K because she is really interested in sports, fitness, and exercise. In 2019 her entire family rallied together and joined her in the 5K to help support CRF. She also gets motivated to encourage other New York marathon runners to get involved!   

Aside from fitness, Vanessa has a love for dogs, especially for her 16-year-old miniature pinscher. Her dog has had health issues in the past, but has thankfully overcome many of them. Because of this, Vanessa would like to find a way to inform others on pet nutrition and what one should really be feeding their animal. She personally makes homemade meals for her dog. Some of her other hobbies and interests include going dancing, watching black and white films, and learning new things. While Vanessa loves all the wonderful CRF events that are hosted in New York, she would love to see our foundation grow and have events in other cities and states. Thank you Vanessa for your long-standing support and passion for our mission. Full Steam Ahead!

By: Rhea Maladkar

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