FWO Fashion Week Online by RNWY: “Cristian Rivera Foundation (CRF) Raises More Than a Half-Million Dollars at Their Star-Studded 14th Annual Fundraising Gala To Benefit”

14th Gala

Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (D.I.P.G.) Research and Clinical Trials: Total CRF Donation to D.I.P.G. in Excess 3 Million Dollars Over The Past Decade
Kenan Thompson, Luis Guzman, Malik Yoba, Chazz Palminteri, Harrison Bader, Gio Urshela, Lauren Velez, and Darlene Rodriguez Are Among The Celebrities Who Turned Out for This Special Cause at This Year’s Gala
Celebrating 14 years of benevolence, New York City-based not-for-profit 501(c)(3), Cristian Rivera Foundation (CRF), hosted a star-studded fundraising gala event to raise money towards research and a groundbreaking clinical trial aimed at curing Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (D.I.P.G.) and other forms of rare pediatric brain cancers. This year’s fundraising event raised more than half a million dollars, bringing the total CRF donation to curing D.I.P.G. and supporting families affected by D.I.P.G. to more than 3 million dollars over the past decade. Among the stars who turned out to support CRF at this year’s gala were Kenan Thompson, Luis Guzman, Malik Yoba, Chazz Palminteri, Harrison Bader, Gio Urshela, Lauren Velez, Fredro Starr, AJ Calloway, William Demeo, and Darlene Rodriguez.


The 14th Annual CRF Celebrity Gala was held at Capitale, 130 Bowery New York, New York 10013 on Wednesday, November 15th, 2023, from 6pm to 11pm. The gala was hosted by a cast of notables, including Board Member and Actor Kenan Thompson, Board Member and Actor Luis Guzman, Actor Malik Yoba, and the foundation’s Board of Director and Anchor of the award-winning NBC’s “Today in New York”, Darlene Rodriguez.


“This year, we honored Major League Baseball star, Harrison Bader, who embodied all the characteristics of a true hero, both on and off the field,” said John Rivera, founder of CRF and father to an extraordinary son who passed away from the disease. “We honored Maria Kuenster, one of our D.I.P.G. Warriors, for her relentless battle against D.I.P.G. to find a cure. We also honored CRF medical partner and neurosurgeon Dr. Mark Souweidane for his vision of hope and CRF Board member and owner of Pulse International Realty Rena Kliot for her service and dedication,” Rivera added.


The foundation’s 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. Immediately after Cristian Rivera lost his battle with D.I.P.G., his father, John “Gungie” Rivera created the foundation in 2009 to help eradicate the disease.


Through auction items, table sales, and more, the 14th Annual CRF Celebrity Gala raised more than 500,000 dollars to support the clinical trials at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Weill Cornell Medical College, and Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital. The foundation also provides monetary support to families impacted by D.I.P.G. and uses funds to spread awareness about this horrible disease.



The Cristian Rivera Foundation is one of the nation’s largest financial supporters of research and family support for D.I.P.G. CRF has funded the clinical trials of Dr. Mark Souweidane, the Director of the Pediatric Brain and Spine Center at Weill Cornell Medical Center and Memorial Sloan Kettering. One patient of those trials, Lisha Ayala, has seen no growth in her tumor. Lisha has lived with D.I.P.G. for over 10 years. Prior to 2012, there were no survivors of D.I.P.G. Now, there are a total of three because of this research.

“The Cristian Rivera Foundation is the cornerstone of my research into Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma,” said Dr. Mark Souweidane. “We are partners in this crusade, and together we have made tremendous progress toward curing children with D.I.P.G. I couldn’t do this critical work without the generosity of their donors and the steadfast commitment of the CRF Board of Directors. I am forever grateful to the members of this organization,” he added.


Cristian Rivera Foundation Mission Statement:

To create a world without D.I.P.G. by funding research towards a cure, spreading awareness and providing family support.

After losing his son to D.I.P.G., Cristian’s life journey inspired his father, John “Gungie” Rivera, to start the Cristian Rivera Foundation, a New Jersey-based 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, in 2009.

Today, three children have responded well to the clinical trials conducted by Dr. Mark Souweidane at Weill Cornell Medical Center which is funded by CRF. These three children are providing hope and promise to the medical community and to children and families impacted by D.I.P.G. CRF also focuses their funding on genetic research conducted by Dr. Oren Becher at Pediatric Hematology-Oncology at Mount Sinai Kravis Children’s Hospital.

CRF strives to reach their mission through fundraising events, monthly newsletters, media outreach and other methods designed to educate and enlighten those in the community who are not aware of D.I.P.G. and its devastating effect on children and families.


CRF has also become a source of support, information, and financial assistance to families affected by D.I.P.G. They work with affected families and help them navigate through this difficult process, providing them with the tools they need to understand this horrible disease.



To view photos from the gala, visit https://cristianriverafoundation.org/14-gala/. To view video highlights, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1p6ACqKiawc&t=17s&ab_channel=CristianRiveraFoundation.
To donate to this amazing cause, visit https://cristianriverafoundation.org/donate/.


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With love,





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