Happy Thanksgiving from CRF – November 2020 Newsletter

November 2020 Newsletter

Around this time last year in November, CRF hosted our 11th Annual Celebrity Gala. Our organization is built on love and seeing everyone at the gala every year is a true testimony of it. Each year we have so many wonderful supporters who attend our gala. It’s because of you that we have been able to make a profound difference in the lives of DIPG families and spread necessary awareness for the disease, all in the hopes of giving children another chance at life.

While COVID-19 has had a big impact on everyone, it hasn’t stopped us from moving forward "Full Steam Ahead" and pursuing our mission. We are thankful for the positive success we’ve had working as a team both in-person and remotely online. We are excited to share with you our upcoming and future plans and look forward to helping many other families like Emiliano’s.

The Cristian Rivera Foundation would also like to welcome two of our newest Board Members to our team, Michael Narvaez and Melinda Colon Cox.

Michael Narvaez is a 20+ year veteran of Wall Street Investment Banks as well as the Owner and sole Proprietor of ANS Entertainment LLC, a boutique DJ and event services company which he started with his wife Claudia in 2005. They live together in Ridgefield, New Jersey with their 3 children, Alexandra, Sofia, and Aedan.

Michael was raised in the South Bronx, is a high school graduate of Cardinal Hayes High School (’91), and attended the College of the Holy Cross (’96). He is an avid sports fan and former HS and collegiate athlete. In 2010, he qualified to run his first NYC marathon. Being raised with a sense of community responsibility and a passion for his Catholic Education motivated him to raise $5,000 to create an emergency tuition fund for the at-risk families at Our Lady of Lourdes School in Harlem. After the recent loss of his cousin Santiago Buther to DIPG, he was inspired once again to use his network of friends and family to help fundraise and make DIPG a thing of the past. “Sadly, this January when Santiago gained his wings, this sense of communal responsibility was awoken within me again. I am firmly committed to help prevent any other child and their family from having to suffer this type of loss. To not combat this disease would be a waste of my time on this earth,” said Michael.

Melinda Colón Cox is a Commercial Litigation Partner at the national law firm of Parker Ibrahim & Berg LLP. She specializes in representing national banks, financial institutions, small and large businesses with an emphasis in commercial and civil litigation, contested foreclosures, consumer finance and protection, contract disputes, as well as general business law and corporate governance. 

Melinda is proud of her Puerto Rican heritage and grew up in New Jersey, where she continues to live.  She is happily married to Kevin E. Cox with whom she has a beautiful 2-year old son, Logan Carter Cox.  She is actively involved in promoting and developing the advancement of Latinxs in the legal profession and community at large and finds passion in helping others in need.  She served as the 40th President of the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey and is a recipient of several state and national awards, many of which are based on her commitment to diversity and inclusion.  She loves all animals, enjoys hiking, playing softball and volleyball, and most importantly, spending time with family.

Upon joining our foundation’s Board, Melinda has said, “No parent should ever have to see their child suffer, no parent should ever lose hope of finding a cure or treatment that will prolong their child’s beautiful life, and certainly, no parent should be put in a situation where they feel alone and cannot afford the necessary treatment to save their child,”. 

We’re very grateful to have Michael and Melinda as part of our team. With all the challenges 2020 has brought, we need all the help we can get to continue making a difference for DIPG families. One way that you can help is by participating in Giving Tuesday on December 1st.

Giving Tuesday is a day of global giving celebrated every year after Thanksgiving as a way of supporting others in response to all that we are grateful for. Giving Tuesday is also an intentional means of directing funds to important causes in place of the sometimes materialistic focuses of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. For this Giving Tuesday, we will be sharing a new reason why giving to CRF makes a difference each day through our #WhyWeGive campaign. Follow us on social media to stay in the know!

With Thanksgiving coming up, we remember how many families will have an empty seat at the table because DIPG took away their child. The work we do helps keep families together, but we need your help to keep our actions going. Please consider making a donation for Giving Tuesday this year at
cristianriverafoundation.org/donation/. Every single dollar counts. Until then, we are wishing each of you a warm, happy, and safe Thanksgiving. Full Steam Ahead!

Our Mission

The 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 Arizmendi, Alex Garcia,
Carlos Colon, Ed Martin, Elis Pacheco,
Fernando Ferrer, Francesco Quattrone,
Jarrad Seuferling, Jesse Allison,
Kenan Thompson, Luis Guzman,
 Meiling Macias Toro, Paul Pristavec, Rafael Toro,
Rena Kliot, Steve Cox, and Vito Bruno.

Committee Friends:
Alberto Torres, Ben Velazquez,
Dr. Manuel A. Moran, Edward Caban,
Maggie Meehan, Mark Rosner, Melinda Colon Cox,
Modesto Lacen, Robert Dominguez,
Vanessa Rodriguez and William Pla.

Honorary Committee Members:
The Late Anthony Mason
and The Late Miriam Colon.

David Rodriguez, Karla De Epstein,
Michael V. Narvaez and Pablo Diaz


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Copyright © 2020 Cristian Rivera Foundation, All rights reserved.

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