CRF December Newsletter – So Long 2020!

December 2020 Newsletter

As we head into the holidays and wrap up 2020, we can look back on this challenging year and see all of the things we have been through and overcame. The COVID-19 pandemic that loomed over this year was unlike anything we have ever had to deal with. Schools closed down, essential workers risked their lives, parents became teachers, and so much more. Big or small, the pandemic has affected all of us in one way or another.

For the Cristian Rivera Foundation, one detrimental effect of the pandemic was the cancellation of our annual celebrity gala. Between ticket sales, sponsorships, auctions, and donations, this gala generates the majority of the money that we raise in a year. Without it, we have relied on donations more than ever to help pave the path to a cure for DIPG.

Despite this immense sacrifice, we’ve been able to press onward in so many positive ways, as I’m sure many of you have. This is thanks to connecting with kind-hearted people who still believe that the lives of DIPG children matter even in the midst of a worldwide crisis.

Thanks to your generosity and support, we are delighted to gift substantial support to the research of Dr. Mark Souweidane and Dr. Oren Becher who need our help more than ever. We will also be giving a year-end donation to Emiliano and his family toward necessary medications and therapies, DIPG warrior Lily Jha from the UK, and some necessary funds to the first survivor of our clinical trial Lisha Ayala.

Meet our new team members

We have also been able to continue our mission by welcoming aboard bright, talented, and caring individuals to our team. Like so many of you, we have also gotten the hang of working from home and are grateful to be connected with so many talented people from across the nation. Meet our new CRF team members below!

Clara Jude

Clara Jude is currently pursuing a Masters of Science in International Relations from Troy University. She has a Bachelors in Business Management and experience in various nonprofit organizations. Clara recently interned at MakeAWish and loved the opportunity to help support children suffering from serious illness by giving them hope. She is excited to gain a deeper understanding of the nonprofit sector while helping to empower families at CRF.

Grace Ison

Grace Ison is a sophomore at Ohio Wesleyan University pursuing a degree in Neuroscience and a minor in psychology. She loves volunteering and is involved with themed housing on campus to give back to the community. She is also an intern with Family Promise of Delaware County. She is excited to combine her passions of neuroscience and working with nonprofits as a part of the Cristian Rivera team!

Mahi Kovvuru

Mahi Kovvuru is currently a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin. She is pursuing a degree in public health with a minor in health care reform. During high school she volunteered at an orphanage in Guatemala and non-profit clinics in India which spurred her interest in working with nonprofits. She is very excited to be a part of this amazing foundation and gain a better understanding of non-profit organizations.

Rhea Maladkar

Rhea Maladkar was born in Washington D.C., but was raised in Huntsville, Alabama. She is a junior at The University of South Alabama in Mobile, Alabama, and is pursuing a major in Psychology, along with minors in Marketing and Industrial Organizational Psychology. Rhea served as the Philanthropy Chair for her sorority, Phi Mu, this year. Phi Mu’s philanthropy is Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and she is very excited to continue her journey with nonprofits by working with The Cristian Rivera Foundation.


We Love you 10

We’re excited to offer the ‘We Love You 10’ special on our children’s book Cristian’s Journey. You can order it for 50 % off at only $10 this holiday season. Join the young train operator while he spreads joy throughout the Big City. Share Cristian’s message of love and encouragement with family and friends, while also supporting DIPG families and researchers

You can purchase the book on our website,

Offer ends January 7th, 2021.

Thank you for staying up to date with Cristian Rivera Foundation! This year has certainly been one full of highs and lows, but we continue to be thankful for the support from the community of people, like you, who are dedicated to the fight against DIPG. We made it through the year and we will continue to work tirelessly into this new year.

We appreciate your support immensely and hope that as 2020 draws to a close you would consider donating towards our mission. Full Steam Ahead!

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”

Chairman of the Board:
Andy Epstein

Board of Directors:
Carlos Yepez and Darlene Rodriguez.

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.

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

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

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


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Copyright © 2020 Cristian Rivera Foundation, All rights reserved.

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