Cristian Rivera’s journey and determination inspired his father, John “Gungie” Rivera, to start the Cristian Rivera Foundation, a New York City-based 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, that is committed to finding a cure for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) through education, program funding and family support. Our foundation strives to increase public awareness of DIPG, as well as raise funds that will provide financial support to families and medical facilities that conduct innovative research and clinical trials. Through its many efforts, the Cristian Rivera Foundation supports the groundbreaking research that will one-day cure DIPG. The foundation funds the work of Dr. Mark Souweidane, Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery of Weill Cornell Medical Center – Memorial Sloane (Kettering) Cancer Center and Dr. Oren Becher of the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital and the Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern. The foundation also provides financial support to families affected by DIPG.
In 2012, Dr. Mark Souweidane, officially launched a pioneering clinical trial that would test the safety of a highly innovative approach using a small fiber to directly deliver drugs into the tumor. On May 1st, 2012, the date of his first official surgery as part of the clinical trial, Dr. Souweidane said with pride, “Today, the first day of Brain Tumor Awareness Month, marks a day of hope for her family, an entry into a new treatment approach for these children, and the culmination of over 16 years of translational research.” This clinical trial has given hope to a handful of children. Four children so far have participated in Dr. Souweidane’s trials and have presented no growth in their tumor. One of those children, Lisha Ayala, has lived with DIPG for 7 years, showing us that our work and dedication are paying off.
Complementing Dr. Souweidane’s amazing work is the enlightening research being performed at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital and the Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern University lab of Dr. Oren Becher. The Cristian Rivera Foundation is proud to support Dr. Becher, helping him and his team develop genetic models of DIPG to better understand the function of genetic alterations in DIPG formation, specifically the genetic alterations that are most important to inhibit therapeutically.
It is research like this that gives us hope that a world without DIPG will soon become a reality. The Cristian Rivera Foundation has pledged its support to Dr. Souweidane and Dr. Becher as they execute their important research and clinical trials.
As a result of our efforts, the Cristian Rivera Foundation has been awarded a Platinum Seal on GuideStar.org for the past 2 years. GuideStar.org is the non-profit industry leader in analysis and public information, and issues their rating based on transparency and positive activity conducted in the non-profit community. In addition, the Cristian Rivera Foundation has received the 2020 Top-Rated Great Nonprofits Award from Great Nonprofits for the 3rd consecutive year.
Help us continue this amazing work by participating in our 3rd Annual Cristian Rivera Foundation “Full Steam Ahead” 5K on Saturday, May 2nd, 2020 at 9:00 a.m. We thank you for your continued support and look forward to eradicating the world of DIPG with your help.