CRF March 2021 Newsletter – We’re Lucky to Have Your Support!

March 2021 Newsletter


March, the month of St. Patrick’s Day and thoughts of Spring has arrived! No matter if you are Irish or not, this month is full of festivities and unusual weather. If you live near our headquarters of New Jersey, you know that the possibilities for snow storms or sunny days are equally high. We are feeling lucky this March and have some exciting news to share. Keep on reading to learn about some board members, DIPG warriors, and exciting grants!


Board Members

The CRF Team has enjoyed interviewing our board members and getting to know them better! This month, we were able to talk with Aldo Marin, Rena Kliot, and Francesco Quattrone. These wonderful leaders are a huge asset to our foundation and we would not be able to do the work we do without them! Thank you to all of our board members. Read more about Aldo, Rena, and Francesco below.

Aldo Marin

Aldo Marin

Aldo Marin has been a dedicated part of our foundation for many years and we are so grateful for all of the work that he has done and will continue to do. Aldo has a successful record label called Cutting Records which has several top-charting pop songs including “Wiggle It” by 2 In A Room and
“Temptation” by Corina. He has been friends with our founder, John “Gungie” Rivera, for over 3 decades. When he heard about Cristian’s battle with DIPG, Aldo wanted to get involved in CRF. He shared that his favorite memories are always made at the galas and he loves seeing everyone get together for the cause! Aldo has big plans and goals for CRF and hopes to raise as much money as possible to help fund clinical trials. Having someone who is as dedicated and passionate as Aldo is truly amazing for our mission!

Rena Kliot

Rena Kliot

Rena has been involved with CRF since 2019. She attended the Annual CRF Gala and has been a dedicated supporter ever since. She owns Pulse International Realty as well as real estate brokerages in Miami and New York. In addition, Rena is a regular cast member on the weekly Real Estate show The American Dream on CBS. Rena was honored when our founder, John, asked her to be a board member in March of 2020. Her favorite part about CRF is being able to help DIPG families in so many ways, whether it’s finding clinical trials for them or assisting them with finances. Since learning about our foundation and DIPG, Rena has become passionate about finding a cure and hopes to spread as much awareness as possible.

Francesco Quattrone

Francesco Quattrone

Francesco joined our board in January of 2020 and has been a great addition. He owns SuperMarket Italy which is an online marketplace that specializes in selling high-quality food products. Francesco became involved with CRF when our Chairman of the Board, Andy Epstein, invited him to our annual gala in 2017. Francesco’s favorite memory so far is from our 2019 Celebrity Gala. He enjoyed meeting people from the DIPG community and learning more about CRF. Francesco has become passionate about finding a cure for DIPG. He hopes that our foundation can grow to an international level so that we can reach and support more people suffering from this horrible disease. We are so happy that he is a part of our community working towards a cure.

Our DIPG Warriors

This past month, we’ve had the opportunity to meet some incredible young folks who are winning the fight against DIPG. We know their survival and fight are beyond just luck. They are a result of true inner strength and the support of dedicated medical professionals, family members, friends and supporters. Meet our DIPG warriors below!


Emily Hood was diagnosed with DIPG in February of 2019 and is now 18 years old. She has a positive outlook on life and considers herself an optimist. Emily is tackling this disease one day at a time, and says “I don’t see a reason to not have hope, and that is a reason for me to have hope”. Emily is currently being treated on a CAR T Cell trial after having radiation and multiple forms of chemotherapy. She is making every day count and plans to go to school to become a pastor. Her positivity and light are contagious and we can’t wait to see what the future holds. Read the full story here:




Elyse Johnson is a sweet little girl from New Zealand who is winning the fight against the DIPG. Elyse was diagnosed with DIPG on April 6th, 2016, and was told by doctors that she would only live for a few more months. However, Elyse’s mother, Casey, refused to give up. Since Elyse’s diagnosis, her tumor has shrunk 15% from all-natural medicines. Elyse is fighting strong and recently celebrated her 7th birthday! She loves swimming, playing with animals, and watching the Wiggles. After 5 years, her journey is inspiring and gives hope to many other families affected by DIPG. Read the full story here:


Meet 5 ½-year-old Weston Wiens. Weston is from Lakeville, Minnesota, and has been fighting DIPG for more than 3 years now! Weston has gone through several treatments and finished his second round of radiation on February 12. He is a Disney lover and especially loves Toy Story, Cars, and Star Wars. We are going to stay in touch with Wes and keep everyone updated on his fight against DIPG.
Read the full story here:


Investor’s Bank Grant

We are beyond grateful and proud to receive a $1,000 grant from Investors Foundation to continue our programs in support of DIPG researchers, families, and awareness. Thank you Investors for your generosity. We’d also like to thank Carlos Yepez, who sits on our Board of Directors, for connecting us with this great opportunity.

Investors Bank, headquartered in Short Hills, New Jersey, is a full-service community bank that has been serving customers since 1926. Investors Bank created the Investors Foundation in 2005 to support the communities Investors Bank serves. Investors Foundation supports initiatives in the arts, youth development, health and human services, education, and affordable housing. The Investors Foundation works to improve the lives of its neighbors and communities across the bank’s footprint. For more information, please visit

Great Non-Profits Award 2021

March 2021

The Cristian Rivera Foundation has been named as a Top-Rated Nonprofit for 2021 by Great Nonprofits for the 4th year in a row! This recognition is very meaningful to our foundation and team. Being a Top-Rated Nonprofit means that there have been many people who have shared their positive stories and experiences with the Cristian Rivera Foundation. One review by volunteer Ashley Brito stated: “The Cristian Rivera Foundation is one of the non for profit foundations that I will continue to volunteer for and support. Everything that they are pushing whether is its the Gala or the Walk or the other numerous events, the energy behind this foundation has been outstanding. I am extremely honored to be a part of such an amazing cause where everyone is very much hands-on with every detail. To see how much the work they do, and how much they help children and families affected by DIPG, is very inspirational!”. These reviews have showcased the compassion and dedication that our team members have for families, donors, and supporters. We could not be more proud of the work that has been done. We are incredibly grateful for this honor.

Wishing You Luck, Joy, and Love this March

The Cristian Rivera Foundation feels very lucky to have such amazing team members and board members who are working diligently to find a cure and raise awareness for DIPG. Thank you especially to our supporters and donors who provide the fuel to keep our mission going. None of this would be possible without you. We are feeling extremely humbled to have received a grant and an award in the last month. These accolades mean the world to our foundation and we could not be more excited that people recognize the importance of our cause. We hope that our luck continues into St. Patrick’s Day and that our DIPG warriors are blessed with good health. A new season and warm weather are just around the corner, until then Full Steam Ahead!

March 2021

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),


Cristian Rivera Foundation

John “Gungie” Rivera
"Forever Cristian’s Daddy"

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.

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

Chairman of the Board:
Andy Epstein

Sarde Laurente

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.


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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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