Cristian Rivera Foundation March 2020 Newsletter

March 2020 Newsletter

Cristian Rivera Foundation 2020 March Newsletter

March has brought some serious challenges to our society as we navigate our world in the time of COVID-19 or the Coronavirus. As events, companies, social gatherings, weddings, funerals and more have been cancelled across the world, we have come to understand that separation means safety and staying apart is the best way for us to come together at this time. Like many of you, our smaller society as a foundation has been learning how to best function at a time like this. The one message that has rung true for us is to continue moving “Full Steam Ahead” as Cristian would, and as he did during his fight against DIPG.

In light of the times, the Cristian Rivera Foundation would like to give a heartfelt thank you to all of our board members, sponsors, donors and supporters who have generously contributed to our efforts for many years. We understand that many of you may be hurting mentally, emotionally, physically and financially at this time and we’d like to reiterate that our hearts are with you. As a foundation, we are consistently here to support you, as you have done for us several times before. Please contact us at if there is anything we can do to help you at this time.

Our foundation would also like to thank our brave health care workers, especially our heroes like Dr. Mark Souweidane, Dr. Oren Becher, Dr. Jeffrey Greenfield, Dr. Caitlin Hoffman, Dr. Kathy Warren and many others who are defending us from the frontlines of this battle. Whether our medical partners are treating COVID-19 patients directly or not, we can understand the enormous complications that may be resulting from this pandemic and how difficult it may be to continue their important work in the hospitals and research labs at this time. More than ever, we thank you for your daily courage and resilience.

With all that may be going on in the world and with a more widespread enemy in town, it’s also a sobering reality to recognize that DIPG still exists and it may be a stronger threat to children and families now more than ever. DIPG patients are severely immunocompromised and therefore are extremely vulnerable to infection simply by being in the hospitals where they may need to receive treatment. If DIPG children do have the ability to stay home, parents and loved ones may have to isolate themselves even further to protect them from infection of the virus. Even at a time like this, DIPG does not stop and it does not wait. Neither will we.

We would like to assure you that the foundation has continued to press forward and make the changes necessary to ensure that we are still giving everything we can to DIPG doctors and families who need support. We are hopeful and optimistic that our world will return to normalcy and look forward to seeing all of our supporters at our upcoming events.

One of our brightest supporters has become a Board Member! Meet new Board Member Dr. Jacquie Smiles. Dr. Smiles was born to be an orthodontist, educator and entrepreneur. She became the first female Director of the Pre-Doctoral Orthodontic Department at her alma mater, Boston University and has given lectures and presentations throughout the world. She was named Invisalign’s National Spokesperson, became the Dental Spokesperson for Invisalign Teen and launched it on the Tyra Bank’s show in 2009. In 2014, Dr. Smiles added a new med spa venture called JustMelt MedSpa, helping everyone in the family look great from head to toe. Personally, Dr. Smiles enjoys skiing on the back bowls of Vail or scuba diving in remote areas around the world.

When asked how she felt about joining the CRF Board, Dr. Smiles said, “All diseases deserve research funding to help find a cure! There is typically less funding available to diseases that affect fewer people. However, these more uncommon diseases hit and devastate families as hard as any other! I joined CRF to help find a cure and develop support for families like the Rivera Family that have dealt with an unbelievable loss from Pontine Glioma, a lesser-known disease. I see the dedication John Rivera has put into this cause and you cannot help but be inspired to fight DIPG with him in the memory of his son, Cristian.”

Dr. Jacquie has shown nothing but determination to fight against DIPG and has shared some wonderful ideas with us. We’re so excited to have her aboard!

We are also excited to announce our Raffle Winners for this year’s raffle project. Wilda Diaz has won 2 Premium Tickets to a Yankee Game, Arleny Rodriguez has won a $200 gift card to Calle Ocho, and Terrence Winston has won a $150 gift card to Thalassa Restaurant. Congratulations again to all of our winners!

Once again, we believe that the current challenges we are facing are temporary and will only give us a stronger resolve to fight DIPG with bigger numbers, larger gatherings, and more motivation than ever before when we finally DO have the ability to be together again. Until then, you are all in our thoughts and prayers. We love you 10! 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),


Available Now
Cristian´s Journey
A Story Inspired by John “Gungie” Rivera, “Forever Cristian´s Daddy”

Cristian's Journey

Written by John “Gungie” Rivera

Available on our website

Proceeds from the purchase of “Cristian´s Journey” will be donated to support D.I.P.G. research and trials at Weill Cornell Medical Center. Thank you for bringing us closer to a cure.

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, Dr. Jacqueline Fulop-Goodling,
Ed Martin, Elis Pacheco, Fernando Ferrer,
Francesco Quattrone, Jarrad Seuferling,
Jesse Allison, Kenan Thompson, Louie Vega,
Luis Guzman, Meiling Macias Toro,
Paul Pristavec, Rafael Toro, Ramon E. Javier,
Rena Kliot, Steve Cox, and Vito Bruno.

Committee Friends:
Alberto Torres, Ben Velazquez,
Dr. Manuel A. Moran, Edward Caban,
Maggie Meehan, Mark Rosner, Modesto Lacen,
Pablo Diaz, Robert Dominguez, Vanessa Rodriguez
and William Pla.

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

David Rodriguez and Karla De Epstein


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