Cristian Rivera Foundation 2019 November Newsletter

Nov 2019 Newsletter

Cristian Rivera Foundation 2019
November Newsletter

On November 13th, 2019 we hosted the 11th Annual Cristian Rivera Foundation Celebrity Gala at Capitale in New York City. Every year, we are extremely grateful for the opportunity to host this magical evening and to remember and share Cristian’s journey with all of you. The Cristian Rivera Foundation has proudly been able to change the fate of victims who suffer from DIPG and make the dream of a cure, achievable.

This year’s Gala was hosted by one of our Board of Directors and Anchor of NBC’s “Today in New York”, Darlene Rodriguez, and Cristian Rivera Foundation Chairman of the Board, Andy Epstein. This year’s Gala theme was Stars. Looking to the stars served as a reminder that if we continue to fight DIPG and relentlessly pursue a cure, we can give children the opportunity to become the stars they were meant to be. Through CRF’s efforts of raising awareness and financial support for DIPG research, we come closer every year. We are delighted to highlight some of our favorite moments throughout the evening:

  • We were honored to have several celebrities in attendance who support CRF and our mission, including Committee Members actor-comedian Kenan Thompson and actor Luis Guzman, NBC Anchor and CRF Board of Director Darlene Rodriguez, TV personality AJ Calloway, actor Ramon Rodriguez, actor Vincent Young, founder of the Guardian Angels Curtis Sliwa, NY Yankees and Mets baseball legend Dwight “Doc” Gooden, actress Annabella Sciorra, actor Bo Dietl, Randy Jones of The Village People, actor Joe Donofrio, Hip-Hop Legend Richard “Crazy Legs” Colon, famed journalist Michael Musto, and Associate Editor of Vanity Fair George Wayne.
  • We celebrated and honored DIPG survivor Lisha Ayala, the first patient to show promising results of Dr. Souweidane’s clinical trial. Lisha is now living with DIPG for 7 years with no tumor growth. There are now 2 other survivors showing results similar to Lisha’s.
  • We remembered DIPG Angel Lucas Harashima with the 2019 CRF Golden Wings Honor, which was accepted with moving words from his loving parents Hide and Sansan.
  • Our partner and hero, Dr. Mark Souweidane, presented Dr. Kathy Warren, a respected pediatric neuro-oncologist and DIPG researcher from the Dana Farber Institute, with the 2019 CRF Vision of Hope Award for her audacity and perseverance in the treacherous territory of finding the best ways to treat DIPG patients.
  • Actor and CRF Committee Member Luis Guzman along with actor Ramon Rodriguez presented the 2019 CRF Humanitarian Award to Breakdancing Legend Richard “Crazy Legs” Colon, for assisting victims of Hurricane Maria.
  • Committee Members Jesse Allison and Jarrad Seuferling presented the 2019 CRF Outstanding Service and Dedication Award to our loyal Committee Member Aldo Marin.
  • Dinner was filled with star-studded performances beginning with young Opera Singer Belangel who was introduced by the two “Docs”. One was Dr. Oren Becher, one of our medical partners, and the other was baseball legend Dwight “Doc” Gooden. Next, Grammy Award winning audio engineer and manager James Cruz along with CRF’s proud publicist Lizzie Grubman introduced the talented children of Ballet Hispanico. Finally, an electrifying performance was given by Hip-Hop violinists Svet and Tanya Tingarova who were introduced by Curtis Sliwa and Dr. Jeffrey Greenfield, Dr. Souweidane’s partner and another one of our heroes working to terminate DIPG.
  • An impromptu performance on the dance floor was given by Mad Stuntman of his hit song from Madagascar, “I Like to Move It, Move It”. He was able to get the whole room moving and took the party to another level!
  • The talented Christina Evangeline made our starry night vision come true with elegance and stunning décor. We had our most beautiful centerpieces and floral arrangements yet!
  • Kenan Thompson and John LaBarbera were our two biggest donors. This marks a few consecutive years where Kenan has been one of our biggest contributors. Thanks to their outstanding generosity, we can continue to provide important support to DIPG families.

The bulk of our funding from that evening came from generous donations, silent auction bids, and our thrilling live auction. During the live auction, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities were auctioned off such as dinner with Luis Guzman, SNL tickets, a Yankees on Field Experience, and Dinner Parties with renowned chefs Nick Lucci, Goya’s own Chef Fernando Desa, and Celebrity Chef Alex Garcia.

In addition, we auctioned off the ability to sponsor a summer fellow at Weill Cornell Medical Center, the chance to give a DIPG family the trip of their dreams through our Wishes Come True program, and the opportunity for a student to shadow the brilliant Dr. Mark Souweidane for one week.

As remarkable and successful as 2019 has been, the year is almost over! Every year we inch closer towards a cure. Perseverance is up to us in sustaining hope for DIPG children. It’s not too late to make a charitable contribution to the Cristian Rivera Foundation before the New Year.

Your contribution is tax deductible and will help fund DIPG clinical research and innovative clinical trials conducted by Dr. Mark Souweidane of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Weill Cornell Medical Center and Dr. Oren Becher at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital and the Lurie Cancer center at Northwestern University. Please consider making a donation at the following link:

We would like to thank each and every one of you for the support you have offered to the Cristian Rivera Foundation. With all of you behind us, we’ve been able to make a profound difference in the lives of DIPG families and spread necessary awareness for DIPG – all in the hopes of giving children another chance at life.

You can relive the 11th Annual Cristian Rivera Foundation Celebrity Gala by checking out our pictures at:

Our MissionThe 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 Garcia, Carlos Colon,
Ed Martin, Elis Pacheco, Fernando Ferrer,
Jarrad Seuferling, Jesse Allison,
Kenan Thompson, Louie Vega,
Luis Guzman, Meiling Macias Toro,
Paul Pristavec, Rafael Toro, Ramon E. Javier,
Steve Cox, and Vito Bruno.

Committee Friends:
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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Copyright © 2019 Cristian Rivera Foundation, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Cristian Rivera Foundation PO Box 656. Edgewater, NJ 07020

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