The Cristian Rivera Foundation
Remembers Ralph Mercado


On Sunday, January 25th 2009, I lost my son Cristian to Pontine Glioma, a rare form of brain cancer that has no cure. On Tuesday, March 10th, 2009 I experienced another painful loss. I lost my partner, my mentor, my friend, my brother and my second father: Ralph Mercado. He was the only person in my life who could truly wear all those different hats. Ralph was more than an inspiration. He made an immeasurable impact when he was alive, and has continued to do so long after he passed away.

Ralph was the reason I decided to pursue a career in the Latin entertainment business. He provided me with the inspiration I had been seeking. With Ralph, I co-produced seven successful years of tropical music concerts at Madison Square Garden. It was because of Ralph that I decided to open up my own music label, Prestigio Recordings/Sony Discos. He advised me against it, but I didn’t listen. To date, it was the worst investment I have ever made. I should have listened. There were people who were scared of Ralph. They had this perception that he was this impenetrable force to be reckoned with. He was, but I also knew the other side of Ralph. I saw what others didn’t. He was caring and he had a gentle soul. He would always call me to set up meetings for one reason or another, and most of the time we would just end up drinking wine and talking about life. We would never really cover any ground on what the meeting had initially been about, but it didn’t matter. I enjoyed every minute of it and learned so much about love, life and business from our conversations. There was no better teacher I could have had than the self-made impresario of Latin music who I had the great privilege of calling my friend.

I can close my eyes and go back to December 2008 when Ralph had been released from the hospital for a short while. I remember going to visit him and was so amazed at he reacted when he saw me. When Ralph saw me, he smiled and requested that I take off my coat. All he kept asking about was the baby (my son Cristian), who was in very bad condition at that time. That was the kind of man he was. Even while he was lying sick in bed, he would still think of others. He was the kind of man who always showed me love and inspired me every day. I am blessed and privileged to have had him in my life. That day, before I left, I kissed and embraced him. He was my family; my partner. Words cannot begin to describe the impact that he had on my life. I feel so happy that I was able to share that day with him and see him smile before he passed.

It has been three years since Ralph passed away and I can still remember it as if it were yesterday. I can still feel the pain that the news of losing such an important person in my life brought me. He is always in my thoughts and remains a part of everything I do as I continually try to pay tribute to him and keep his memory alive. Together we will never stop working to fulfill the legacy his father left behind. It eases my pain a bit to know that my son is with someone I hold so close to my heart. I am sure Ralph is in Heaven discussing the production of Thomas the Train events with Cristian. I know their legacies will continue to live on here on Earth, in Heaven and in all of our hearts.

Cristian Rivera Foundation Continues to Spread Awareness at the 2011 Latin Mixx Conference


Last night, the Cristian Rivera Foundation was featured during the Latin Mixx Conference (LMC) Awards Ceremony at The Times Square Center. The ceremony marked LMC’s 6th year in the making, and honored the top Latino DJ’s and promoters in the business. Founder, Kevin “Pills” Monatano, acknowledged the growing strength of the Latino population and pulled all the stops in coordinating this meeting of the minds for the three-day conference. The awards ceremony was hosted by Sito Rocks, K. Marie, BET & 105.1 FM’s DJ Prostyle, and BET 106 & Park’s very own Rocsi. However, hands down the most hysterical antics where Comedy Central Premium Blend, Galavision Que Loco, and BET Comic View’s Jason Andors who kept crowd in stitches with his dance moves and impressions. Later in the evening, the Cristian Rivera Foundation’s Founder John “Gungie” Rivera spoke on behalf of the Foundation in a heartfelt presentation about the devastating effects of diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma or DIPG. Rivera extended his praise to all nominees for having come so far, and conveyed his enthusiasm for being Latino in the entertainment industry right now. Rivera also went into the grim details surrounding the loss of his son to the inoperable brain stem tumor, DIPG. He asked for the parents in the audience to identify themselves and related, “One thing for sure is that we love our children more than anything, that’s the greatest love that we could ever experience.” He spoke about how he created the foundation shortly after his son passed with the support of committee members in the audience like DJ Camilo and Tedmooth. Rivera ended his presentation with a story of hope. In January, a 6 year old girl from Spain was operated on by Dr. Mark Souweidane of Weill Cornell Medical College and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in an effort to save her life. Dr. Souweidane’s viable scientific research has recently shown promise of a cure and that operation marked the launch of his medical trials. A girl who supposedly had just weeks to live, is stable 7 months later. Rivera extended his best wishes to the young girl and her family. The Cristian Rivera Foundation and its members look forward to a continued relationship with Latin Mixx. Overall, it was inspiring to see so many successful Latinos united to recognize each other’s accomplishments.

Latin Kitchen Holds Successful Mini-Fundraiser
for the Cristian Rivera Foundation



Bronx restaurant Latin Kitchen was the site of the Cristian Rivera Foundation’s most recent mini-fundraiser event on July 29. The restaurant, located at 3841 East Tremont Avenue, becomes a lounge every Thursday night and on this particular Thursday, everyone who came after 10pm paid a $10 donation and received one of the Cristian Rivera Foundation’s signature blue wristbands. Latin Kitchen’s DJ Lucho Concepcion and Robert Vasquez organized the event, which featured music from resident DJ Victor Vargas, as well as Cristian Rivera Foundation Committee Member DJ Tedsmooth. Committee Members Kenya Bradix, Solange Osorio and Steve Cox were all there to support the cause. Lots of John “Gungie” Rivera’s friends, as well as friends of the Cristian Rivera Foundation came out and everyone had a great time.