One of New York City’s best-known music promoters of the ‘90s is having a throwback dance party — that doubles as a fundraiser for a cause near and dear to his heart.
Revelers who hop aboard the Circle Line on Saturday, July 15, at 7 p.m. for the second annual Cristian Rivera Foundation Freestyle Flashback Benefit Boatride will be treated to several hours of freestyle dance music courtesy of a live performance by singer Noel, along with DJ Tedsmooth, Big Paul and Rob Lo, with Alizay and Speedy of the Luis Jimenez Show serving as hosts.
But the real purpose of the evening is to raise money for the Cristian Rivera Foundation, a nonprofit that donates all monies raised to hospitals and foundations researching cures for DIPG, a deadly childhood cancer.
The foundation is named for Rivera’s son Cristian, who was diagnosed with DIPG in 2007 and died two years later at age 6. DIPG — diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma — is a rare form of brain cancer that affects less than 300 kids each year but has an extremely high mortality rate. Less than 1% of those diagnosed with the disease live five years after being diagnosed.
“Creating awareness and fundraising is very difficult,” says Rivera, who founded the Cristian Rivera Foundation in 2009 and has dedicated his life to the cause in memory of his son.
The concept of a fun-filled boat ride around Manhattan with live music was “a way to get 600 people to come to an event because of the entertainment,” Rivera adds.
“Once they are at the event I am able to educate them about DIPG while raising funds. By the end of the event a fair percentage of our attendees become supporters of the foundation, so it’s a win-win. Most of the attendees are people who used to attend my events or follow me when I was a DJ.”
“In the spring of 2018 we are going do the first annual walk,” Rivera says. “We also have three concerts in the works as well as various small cocktail receptions that are being produced by our board of directors, committee members, committee friends and our supporters.”
Rivera says the foundation’s efforts to raise money for research are beginning to pay off. “One of the patients in our trials, an 11-year old girl from Connecticut named Lisha Ayala, has had DIPG for almost five years. In the past four years there has been no activity in her tumor,” he says.
“I may be speaking prematurely, but my feeling is that she will be our first survivor. To my knowledge, there has been no one with DIPG that has lived this long.”
The Cristian Rivera Foundation Freestyle Flashback Benefit Boatride on Saturday, July 15, starts at 7 p.m. sharp on the Circle Line at Pier 83, W.42nd St. and Westside Highway. The event is from 8 p.m. to 12 a.m.
To purchase tickets or for more information, go to cristianriverafoundation.org
Nearly a decade ago, John Rivera turned the worst crisis a parent can face — the terminal cancer diagnosis of his young son — into a lifelong quest to help save other children’s lives.
In 2007, Rivera’s 4-year-old son, Cristian, was diagnosed with a very rare form of brain cancer, diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG.
An extremely rare but devastating disease, DIPG affects less than 300 kids each year but has an extremely high mortality rate — less than 1% live five years after being diagnosed.
Cristian died in 2009 at 6, but his brave, two-year battle with the disease spurred Rivera to dedicate his own life to raising money and awareness to fight DIPG.
“It’s still very difficult,” Rivera said about losing his son. “But I have to be one of the people — one of the tools — that helps find a cure.”
Rivera, 52, a music producer and promoter known in the industry as “Gungie,” in 2009 created the Cristian Rivera Foundation, a nonprofit that donates all monies raised to hospitals and foundations researching cures for DIPG.
On Wednesday, the foundation will host its eighth annual celebrity fund-raising gala at the Broad Street Ballroom in Manhattan.
The event, hosted by NBC’s Darlene Rodriguez, will honor Dr. Mark Souweidane, director of the Weill Cornell Pediatric Brain and Spine Center and the physician behind a new treatment trial partly funded by the foundation and its supporters.
“When my son was diagnosed, there was no hope for a cure and very little information,” Rivera said. “Now almost 10 years later, there has been so much progress.”
DIPG tumors are found in the brainstem, making the cancer incredibly difficult to treat with chemotherapy. Dr. Soudweidane’s new trial uses a technique known as convection-enhanced delivery, or CED.
This method treats the tumor by inserting hairline fibers laced with a chemo agent through the difficult-to-penetrate blood-brain barrier and directly into the tumor on the brainstem.
There are still no confirmed survivors of the disease, but Rivera is hopeful that this new trial is a major step towards a cure.
“We’ve been able to treat approximately 31 children,” Rivera said. “Unfortunately, most of them have passed. But there is one little girl that has tolerated the treatment very well. She’s 11, the oldest child I know with the disease.
“It’s wonderful to see the foundation grow every year,” Rivera adds. “Even if I can’t get everyone to donate, I know that I’ve planted a seed of information and spread awareness about a disease that so few people know about.”
The Cristian Rivera Foundation has amazing news to share! This years’ Cristian Rivera Foundation’s Humanitarian Award recipient is Brandon Stanton. Brandon is the founder of the incredibly popular Humans of New York! Earlier this year, Brandon ran a story and a subsequent fundraising campaign to benefit Dr. Mark Souweidane. We were impressed with Brandon’s dedication to humanity. We are honored that Brandon accepted the award and we look forward to hearing him speak at the Gala.
We love great non-for-profit work, for the eighth year in a row, New York City-based not-for-profit 501(c)(3) The Cristian Rivera Foundation is gathering celebrities, supporters and donors to raise money toward a groundbreaking clinical trial aimed at curing Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG).
The eighth annual Cristian Rivera Foundation Celebrity Gala will be held at Broad Street Ballroom in Manhattan on Wednesday, November 30. The foundation namesake Cristian Rivera was only 4 years old when he was diagnosed with the rare pediatric brain stem tumor, which generally affects children between the ages of 1 and 9. Approximately 200 children are diagnosed with DIPG each year in the United States and most only survive for 3 to 18 months after diagnosis.
Through auction items, ticket sales and more, the eighth annual Cristian Rivera Foundation Celebrity Gala will raise money in support of a clinical trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Medical College that officially got underway on May 1, 2012, thanks to the more than $700,000 in donations from the
Cristian Rivera Foundation to date. Spearheaded by Dr. Mark Souweidane, the Director of the Weill Cornell Pediatric Brain and Spine Center, this trial is the first of its kind to use convection-enhanced delivery to administer radio immunotherapy to children with an otherwise incurable tumor.Dr. Souweidane has found a way to operate on a tumor that had, until now, been deemed inoperable. Dr. Souweidane has developed a safe method for drug delivery to these tumors by a highly innovative surgical procedure. Up until this time surgery has played no role in the treatment plan for these children with DIPG. This procedure involves implanting a small hair-like device into the center of the tumor and then using a slow constant flow of drug directly into the involved brain stem. The Cristian Rivera Foundation is proud to support Dr. Souweidane’s important research.
The eighth annual Cristian Rivera Foundation Celebrity Gala will be hosted by Cristian Rivera Foundation Board of Director and Anchor of the award winning NBC’s “Today in New York”, Darlene Rodriguez. The event kicks off at 6pm with red carpet arrivals from esteemed guests and foundation committee members. Tickets are sold out and include passed hors d’oeuvres, five hours of open bar, and dinner provided by Celebrity Chefs Alex Garcia, a committee member of the Cristian Rivera Foundation. There will also be live and silent auctions offering one-of-a-kind items and experiences.
The eighth annual Cristian Rivera Foundation Celebrity Gala will begin at 6 PM and end at 11 PM on Wednesday, November 30th. The Broad Street Ballroom is located at 41 Broad Street in the Financial District. Sponsorship packages and ads to be displayed in the program are still available for purchase. The Cristian Rivera Foundation is accepting donations in the fight against DIPG. All contributions are tax-deductible and critical to finding a cure for this disease and assisting children and families in their ongoing fight against DIPG.
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Follow here to read
The New York Daily News article
published Today Sat 11/14
which highlights The Cristian Rivera Foundation’s
drive and dedication to find a cure for DIPG
and the upcoming Gala Tues Nov 17th
at the Broad Street Ballroom.
Cristian Rivera Foundation founder John “Gungie” Rivera recently paid a visit to personally give Dr. Mark Souweidane a check for the $100,000 pledged to his research at the Fifth Annual Cristian Rivera Foundation Celebrity Gala. The Cristian Rivera Foundation has been one of Dr. Souweidane’s main supporters and donations from the foundation have been instrumental in getting his groundbreaking clinical trial off the ground. Dr. Souweidane was happy to accept not only the donation check but also two surprise gifts from the Fifth Annual Cristian Rivera Foundation Celebrity Gala—an Andy Pettite-autographed baseball, for which John “Gungie” Rivera outbid him by $50, and a painting of Cristian, painted live at the Gala by Japanese artist Pisu, for which Cristian Rivera Foundation Committee Member Andy Epstein outbid him by $100. Pisu has done live paintings at the Gala every year since the Third Annual Gala. The Cristian Rivera Foundation is proud to give Dr. Souweidane all of these things to show our support as he continues his work toward a cure for DIPG.
Cristian Rivera Foundation Committee Member Darlene Rodriguez sat down with Cristian Rivera Foundation founder John “Gungie” Rivera and Dr. Mark Souweidane of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Medical College to learn more about DIPG and the Cristian Rivera Foundation’s amazing efforts to fund research into its cure. The segment aired on Monday September 30, the same day that Rodriguez hosted the Fifth Annual Cristian Rivera Foundation Gala. To see the full segment, visit http://www.nbcnewyork.com/video/#!/on-air/as-seen-on/The-Cristian-Rivera-Foundation/225787111.