All of us at the Cristian Rivera Foundation would like to thank you for your help in bringing us closer to a world without DIPG. Your continued support is invaluable as we work toward a cure. Wishing you and your family the best this holiday season and all year round.
Successful Performance of DC-7: The Roberto Clemente Story Honors the Cristian Rivera Foundation and the Late Ralph Mercado
A special performance of award-winning bilingual musical DC-7: The Roberto Clemente Story was held in honor of The Cristian Rivera Foundation and the late Ralph Mercado at Puerto Rico's Teatro Francisco Arrivi on Saturday December 8. The sold-out event helped raise awareness of the Cristian Rivera Foundation's mission to find a cure for DIPG. Among the night's many high-profile attendees were Luis Roberto Clemente, son of Roberto Clemente, as well as salsa singer Johnny Rivera, percussionist and orchestra leader Roberto Roena, and salsa singer and actor Michael Staurt. Cristian Rivera Foundation founder John "Gungie" Rivera, an associate producer of DC-7, greeted the crowd and showed them a video about DIPG, his son Cristian Rivera and why the mission of the Cristian Rivera Foundation is so important. He was followed by Ralph Mercado III, an associate producer of DC-7 and a member of the Cristian Rivera Foundation's Board of Directors, who gave a moving tribute to his late father, legendary music impresario Ralph Mercado. The audience was delighted by the play, which follows the story of Puerto Rican-born Hall of Fame baseball player Clemente from his humble beginnings through his major league baseball career and the philanthropic efforts that made him a hero on and off the field. DC-7 is such a hit in Puerto Rico that salsa singer Ismael Miranda was seen taking in a performance the following day. DC-7: The Roberto Clemente Story runs through Sunday December 16. To purchase tickets, contact Ticket Center Plaza las Americas at 787-792-5000 or www.tcpr.com
The Cristian Rivera Foundation has partnered with Discovery Toys to find a cure for rare, inoperable brain stem tumor, DIPG.
For a limited time only, Discovery Toys will donate 20% of the proceeds from all orders made through the Discovery Toys website.
Just click HERE to get started and 20% of the money you spend will be used to fund promising research by Dr. mark Souweidane of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Medical College, and Dr. Oren Becher of Duke University - doctors at the top of the field who have dedicated themselves to curing DIPG.
Today, Cristian Rivera Foundation founder John “Gungie” Rivera received great news from Denise Downing, whose daughter Caitlin was the first patient in Dr. Mark Souweidane’s clinical trial. At the Fourth Annual Cristian Rivera Foundation Celebrity Gala, where Denise and Caitlin were guests of honor, Denise tearfully shared her story with the crowd and expressed her hope that her daughter would be readmitted into the trial while there was still time to help her. She called today to share the amazing news that her daughter has received the approval she needed and Denise thanked the Cristian Rivera Foundation for their help in making it happen.
September 29 is always a tough day for me because it’s the birthday of my friend and partner Ralph Mercado. Ralph was diagnosed with a brain tumor just weeks before my son Cristian, and he and Cristian passed away from their respective brain tumors a few weeks apart as well. Ironically, Ralph’s birthday on September 29 is also just a few weeks after Cristian’s birthday on September 13. So three times each year, I’m hit especially hard as I remember two important people who left my life too soon: on their birthdays, the anniversaries of their diagnosis and the anniversaries of their passing. I try to focus on the fond memories I shared with Ralph. Usually around his birthday, Ralph and I would have a concert at the Hollywood Bowl. We would always celebrate his birthday on the last Saturday of September in Los Angeles. Ralph was such a pioneer in the Tropical Music industry and he is someone who started so many careers for artists and executives alike. He was one of my idols. He was a mentor, a partner, a father figure and a friend. How ironic that I lost Ralph and my son to brain tumors. I can’t wait for the day when brain tumors are a thing of the past.
Pediatric cancer research got a major boost as The Cristian Rivera Foundation held its 4th Annual Celebrity Gala at the legendary Copacabana Supper Club and Event Space on Thursday, September 13. The event was held on what would have been Cristian’s 10th birthday, in the same location as the memorable fifth birthday his Mommy and Daddy, Jenelle Asencio and John “Gungie” Rivera, had for him before he passed away from DIPG.
Hosted by Cristian Rivera Foundation Committee Members Saturday Night Live star Kenan Thompson and Today in New York co-anchor Darlene Rodriguez, the gala featured an exciting carnival theme, complete with acrobats, contortionists and other circus acts that wowed the crowd as they enjoyed dinner provided by Cristian Rivera Foundation Committee Members and Celebrity Chefs Alex Garcia and Ricardo Cardona.
Cristian’s Mommy and Daddy, along with all the committee members in attendance that night, presented a check for $110,000 to Dr. Mark Souweidane of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and also marked the start of a new relationship between the foundation and Dr. Oren Becher of Duke University with a donation of $20,000. Not only were both doctors in attendance that night, but the Cristian Rivera Foundation was also proud to welcome the first patient in Dr. Souweidane’s clinical trial and her mother, who moved the crowd to tears as she shared the story of her daughter’s surgery and the continuing struggles with DIPG that followed.
Making the night’s generous donations possible were philanthropists and charity supporters that included celebrities like Dangerous Minds co-star Renoly Santiago, Mob Wives star Drita Davanzo, and America’s Next Top Model Cycle 8 winner Jaslene Gonzalez, and high-profile Cristian Rivera Foundation Committee Members like Hot 97’s Funkmaster Flex; Real Housewives of New Jersey star Danielle Staub; former New York Knicks All-Star Anthony Mason; legendary DJ/producer John “Jellybean” Benitez; One Life to Live star Kamar de los Reyes; actor Modesto Lacen; founder of Teatro SEA Dr. Manuel A. Moran; and Roberto Clemente Jr.
Also making a special appearance were Cristian Rivera Foundation Committee Members including Aldo Marin; Andy Epstein; Dr. Ben Velazquez; Carlos Keyes; Carlos D. Nazario; Carlos R. Colon; David M. Garriga; Dennis Rodriguez; Dolores Catania; Elis Pacheco; Fred Garcia; Jeff Lavino; Jerry Chaparro; Jerry Salerno; Johnny Nunez; Karen Cerna; Katie De Florio; Kim Medina-Tibulac; Krystal Fessette; Mark Rosner; Matthew “Mateo” Rajkumar; Ralph Mercado III; Robert Vazquez; Solange Osorio; Steve Cox; Tony Ferrara; Vito Bruno; and William Padilla.
Some say the best is often brought to fight in the face of human tragedy. That couldn’t be more true for the friends and family of the Cristian Rivera Foundation (CRF). Wednesday night, guests packed Zylo, the steakhouse located in the W-Hoboken, for a cancer fundraiser. CRF Committee member and host Andy Epstein organized the event with the help of Zylo’s Manager Kevin Hayes.
But the real human face of this disease is Cristian Rivera, the child of John and Jenelle, who lost the battle with cancer. Throughout the dining room were posters of Cristian, which served as a reminder to attendees of why the foundation was started.
Over 55k was raised at the event – with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the charity. Several celebrities came out to show their support and many items for the live auction were also donated including a signed chef’s jacket by the Cake Boss, and an autographed jersey by NJ Devils Captain Zach Parise, among others.
Famed actor Luis Guzman, who was recently seen in the hit film Journey 2 Mysterious Island, brought his support of the Cristian Rivera Foundation all the way to Chicago, where he was participating in the Marc Anthony and Henry Cardenas Maestro Cares fundraising event. A proud Cristian Rivera Foundation Committee Member, Guzman was seen wearing the foundation´s wooden beaded wristband with a charm in the shape of the Cristian Rivera Foundation´s train logo. These bracelets were inspired by Cristian´s Mommy Jenelle Asencio and made their debut at the third annual Cristian Rivera Foundation Gala.
Purchase Tickets now!
(All tickets purchased Today, Thursday 9/13
before 5pm will be redeemed at the door)
General Admission Silver Ticket Click Here
Includes: Open Bar & Buffet.
Access to all 3 floors including Rooftop.
General Admission Gold Ticket Click Here
Includes: Open Bar & Buffet. Access to all 3 floors including Rooftop.
Swag Bag upon leaving (Gift Certificates & Luxury Items Valued at $150
VIP Admission Platinum Ticket
Cristian Rivera Foundation is happy to announce that Committee Member and former New York Knicks All-Star Anthony Mason recently donated $15,000 to the foundation to help find a cure for rare pediatric brain stem tumor DIPG. Mason, who named the Cristian Rivera Foundation his official charity, made the generous donation in return for promotional appearances he made on behalf of Steiner Sports.
“Being on the Cristian Rivera Foundation Committee means a lot to me,” Mason said in a statement. “I know what it’s like with my own kids and though you can never know what it’s like for someone to lose a child, I can only imagine since I know how I feel when my kids only get hurt. I want people to get involved and start doing the research to cure this disease because we as parents should not have to bury our children.”
Mason’s $15,000 donation is helping to fund a promising clinical trial that started in May 2012 at Memorial Sloan Kettering and Weill Cornell Medical Center. Dr. Mark Souweidane, the doctor spearheading the trial, is using convection-enhanced delivery for the first time to administer radio immunotherapy to children with an otherwise incurable tumor. Since May 2012, Dr. Souweidane has operated on two young children with DIPG tumors that, until now, had been considered inoperable. Both patients are continuing to do well after surgery and Mason’s donation will go a long way toward ultimately curing this deadly disease.
Today, Wednesday, July 25, 2012, marks three and a half years since Cristian left his family for heaven and this morning he was joined by his great-grandmother, Encarnacion Torres, who passed away after a five year battle with cancer and dementia. We at the Cristian Rivera Foundation are deeply affected by the loss of such a beautiful woman, one who cared for Cristian’s Daddy, John “Gungie” Rivera, as a child. However, at the end of so much suffering there is a silver lining in the clouds. Reunited with his great-grandmother, Cristian has another person to boss around! We’re glad they have each other now.
We sincerely thank Andy Epstein for his involvement in last month’s event at the Zylo Tuscan steakhouse. From this event, an additional $55,000 has gone towards clinical trials which aim to find a cure for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). Past events we've held have greatly contributed towards the costs of the operations. Dr. Souweidane has operated on two patients so far, a little girl and a little boy who are stable and doing well. These operations are taking us a step closer towards finding a cure. We hope to treat more patients affected by DIPG in the future and ultimately begin saving lives.
The Cristian Rivera Foundation is pleased to announce that Dr. Mark Souweidane, leading pioneer of the DIPG clinical trials at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Medical Center, has just operated on the trial’s second patient today, Tuesday, July 17th! This clinical trial has been making great strides in the battle against DIPG, providing hope for families who previously had none. Dr. Souweidane operated on the first patient of the trial on Monday, May 1st and the beautiful 4-year-old girl has been doing surprisingly well. We are so proud to have helped fund this groundbreaking clinical trial, one that we hope will lead to finding a cure for DIPG. Currently, DIPG is an incurable disease which claims the lives of 200-300 children between the ages of 1 and 9 in the United States each year, a statistic we hope to abolish in the future. Full Steam Ahead!
Philanthropists, celebrity guests and more came together in support of the Cristian Rivera Foundation last night for the foundation's first-ever New Jersey fundraiser at Zylo Tuscan Steak House in Hoboken. All proceeds from the event went towards the Cristian Rivera Foundation's goal of curing rare, inoperable pediatric brain stem tumor Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG).
Cristian Rivera Foundation Committee Member Andy Epstein and Zylo manager Kevin Hayes organized the event, which featured entertainment from Sinatra Idol winner Eric DeLauro (www.SinatraIdol.com) and hot new singing sensations Tyler Reid and Stevie G (www.youtube.com/tylernstevie). Guests also enjoyed three hours of passed hors d'oeuvres, as well as specialty cocktails from Stoli Vodka and first-class tastings provided by Artesa Winery and Macallan Scotch.
Many esteemed and noteworthy guests were on hand at the sold-out event, including Real Housewives of New Jersey star Danielle Staub and Saturday Night Live Star and Cristian Rivera Foundation Committee Member Kenan Thompson. Some of Thompson's fellow Committee Members who attended the event included actress and founder of the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre Miriam Colon, founder and CEO of AM PM Entertainment Concepts Vito Bruno, Information Technology manager Steve Cox, founder of Bronx Base Builders William Padilla, interior decorator Solange Osorio, concert impresario Ralph Mercado, businessman Elis Pacheco, and Celebrity Chefs Alex Garcia and Ricardo Cardona.
Fresh off the Stanley Cup Finals, New Jersey Devils Captain Zach Parise made a surprise appearance to auction off an autographed hockey stick and jersey, as well as once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunities with guests. The auction also included rare autographed items from Cake Boss Buddy Valastro and home-catered meals provided by Chefs Garcia and Cardona, among other items.
In all, the Cristian Rivera Foundation raised $55,000 to help fund the groundbreaking clinical trials led by Dr. Mark Souweidane at Memorial Sloan Kettering and Weill Cornell Medical Center. Dr. Souweidane operated on the first patient in his trial—a beautiful 4-year-old girl—on May 1, 2012, the first day of Brain Tumor Awareness Month. Dr. Jeff Greenfield, who works alongside Dr. Souweidane in his quest to cure DIPG, attended the event and gladly accepted the $55,000 check from Epstein, Hayes and Cristian Rivera Foundation founder John "Gungie" Rivera.
Since October of 2010, the Cristian Rivera Foundation has donated more than $200,000 to Dr. Souweidane's pioneering research.
For more information on the Cristian Rivera Foundation, please visit www.cristianriverafoundation.org.
The Cristian Rivera Foundation wants to wish a happy birthday to Cristian's mommy, Jenelle Asencio. On January 25, 2009, she lost her son Cristian to DIPG and this loss sparked the foundation to spread awareness and raise money for a cure. Jenelle found a way to channel her grief positively, and has set off to become a nurse and help other children in their time of need. We applaud this courageous woman for showing so much strength while facing unbearable tragedy.
May 1, 2012—New York, NY—Doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Medical Center took a major step towards finding a cure for inoperable pediatric brain stem tumor Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG) on Tuesday, May 1, 2012 as work began on the first patient in a pioneering clinical trial spearheaded by Dr. Mark Souweidane. Through the innovative use of convection-enhanced delivery (CED), Dr. Souweidane’s clinical trials will be the first of its kind to administer radio immunotherapy to children with an otherwise incurable tumor.
Denise Pflaumer Downing is the patient’s mother and a Facebook follower of The Cristian Rivera Foundation. She expressed her gratitude for the efforts of the Foundation when she sent this message: “I am sitting at MSKCC in NYC. Right now, my 4 year old daughter is in surgery with Dr Mark Souweidane and his team as they perform the first surgery in a new clinical trial on my daughter. I am so thankful to your foundation for all you have done to support this research and make this trial possible. We must find a cure for DIPG, not only for my child but for all children. Thank you Cristian Rivera Foundation!”
Another sentiment soon followed, this time from Dr. Souwedaine himself.“Today, the first day of Brain Tumor Awareness month, we treated our first patient on our trial using local delivery of a radioimmunotherpeutic agent. The beautiful 4-year-old girl did fantastic and tolerated her surgery like a true champion. Today marks a day of hope for her family, an entry into a new treatment approach for these children, and the culmination of over 12 years of translational research.”
Through this groundbreaking work, Dr. Souweidane and his team aim to ultimately save the lives of approximately 200-300 children who are diagnosed with DIPG each year in the United States. DIPG is typically found in children between the ages of 1 and 9, who are given a bleak prognosis after the tumor is discovered. Median survival is less than one year and the two-year survival rate is less than 20 percent. Currently, there are no recorded survivors and all children diagnosed with the disease typically pass away within 3-18 months.
Helping make these landmark trials possible were donations from top cancer charities with the common goal of making DIPG a thing of the past, including New York City-based not-for-profit 501(c)(3) The Cristian Rivera Foundation, which, to date, has donated approximately $150,000 to Dr. Souweidane’s promising research. John “Gungie” Rivera started the foundation in 2009, months after his 6-year-old son Cristian lost a more than two-year battle with the disease. The Cristian Rivera Foundation is committed to supporting DIPG families and finding a cure for DIPG through education and program funding.
“When my son Cristian was first diagnosed with DIPG, it seemed very unlikely, in fact almost impossible, that a cure would be found in my lifetime,” said Rivera. “Thanks to the amazing courage and interminable spirit of Dr. Souweidane and everyone at the Weill Cornell Pediatric Brain and Spine Center, I firmly believe a cure is within our grasp. Dr. Souweidane gives the DIPG community the hope they so desperately need and I am proud to give him the full support of the Cristian Rivera Foundation as he works toward a cure.”
Happy 14th Birthday Javier "Buji" Villamil
Happy birthday to DIPG Angel Javier "Buji" Villamil born April 26th, 1998. Buji was diagnosed with DIPG just short of his 11th birthday April 13th, 2009 and fought for eight and a half months until he left this world at peace in his own home with his mother and father on January 4th, 2010. Buji was a very athletic young man who enjoyed playing baseball in a pee-wee league and basketball on an all-star team. Our thoughts are with his family and his aunt, Cristian Rivera Foundation Committee Member Fulvia Lora on his 14th birthday today. Rest in peace, angel.
Happy 10th birthday Meg Wasley
Margaret "Meg" Wasley was born April 11th, 2002. Her love of fashion and style established her dream to model and walk a runway. In eight years, Meg was able to fulfill some of her dreams. Meg attended the Make-A-Wish Foudation-themed birthday party of Aoki Lee Simmons and was featured on Kimora: Life in the Fab Lane, getting her hair and makeup done on television. Meg shows us that no matter what, you can still smile and be happy. Fighting for almost a year, this princess earned her wings on January 10th, 2011. Today, she is surely celebrating her 10th birthday in style in a carefully selected outfit. Meg, our thoughts are with your family today and we know you will continue to smile down on them to bring them the light you always did. Rest in peace, angel.
Remembering Delaney Starcher
Happy 8th birthday to DIPG angel, Delaney Starcher born April 1st, 2004. "Laney Bug" was diagnosed on October 9th, 2008 at just over 4 years old and about a year later on December 1st, 2009 this little angel earned her wings. She won her battle and found her place in heaven, where she watches over her mom and step-dad, sisters and brother. Delaney was the uplifting spirit to all around her and we're sure that will never change. Happy birthday, angel.
Remembering Isaiah Ryan Garza
Isaiah was a strong spirit that surrounded him with friends. He loved for others to be happy and wanted to make a difference in the world. We applaud his strong will to do so. Born on July 21st, 1992, Isaiah was 12 years old when he was diagnosed with DIPG and it was two years later, April 1st, 2006 that he became an angel. Our thoughts reach out to Isaiah’s family on this day. You will never be forgotten, Isaiah. We’re sure you’re doing wonderful things in heaven. Keep watching over and rest peacefully.
The Cristian Rivera Foundation hosted a successful charity performance of award-winning bilingual musical DC-7, The Roberto Clemente Story on Thursday, March 22. The event, which included a two-hour red carpet event catered by Celebrity Chef and Cristian Rivera Foundation Committee Member Alex Garcia, the executive chef at Babalu Restaurant and Lounge in the Bronx, raised $10,000 toward Dr. Mark Souweidane's pioneering clinical trials aimed at finding a cure for DIPG. Dr. Souweidane attended the performance and as he accepted the check live on stage from Cristian Rivera Foundation founder John "Gungie" Rivera and all of the committee members in attendance, he announced that his team is within weeks of treating the first patient. Among the night's high-profile attendees were The Real Housewives of New Jersey star Danielle Staub and Cristian Rivera Foundation Committee Members sportscaster and humanitarian Roberto Clemente Jr., founder of the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre Miriam Colon, businessman Elis Pacheco, founder and president of Metropolitan Recording Corporation Jerry Salerno, DJ Tedsmooth, music producer Aldo Marin, Red Entertainment Group founder Carlos Keyes, businessman Jeff Lavino, David Letterman Show staffer Karen Cerna, real estate agent Fulvia Lora, Bronx Base Builders founder William Padilla, information technology manager Steve Cox, X-Interactive Media founder Carlos Colon, philanthropist Dolores Catania, and concert impresario Ralph Mercado III, a member of the Cristian Rivera Foundation Board of Directors.
Local Charity Raises $10,000 for Cancer Research with Charity Performance of Award-Winning Musical! March 23, 2012—New York, NY—New York-based not-for-profit 501(c)(3) The Cristian Rivera Foundation raised $10,000 for a pioneering cancer trial at Memorial Sloan Kettering on Thursday, March 22 with a one-night-only charity performance of award-winning bilingual musical DC-7, The Roberto Clemente Story at the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre.or more information on the Cristian Rivera Foundation, visit www.cristianriverafoundation.org
Remembering Nathan Andrew Waggoner
Nathan, born August 18th, 1992 was a positive spirit, even after his diagnosis on May 8th, 2008 at the age of 16. He loved his job at an Omaha local Sporting Goods store where he was always around equipment for the sports he loved. He enjoyed boating, fishing, wakeboarding, snowboarding and kayaking. It was March 19th, 2010 when Nathan became an angel. Our thoughts are with his parents Jeff and Monica and his brother Nicholas always. Rest in peace, angel. Keep smiling.
DIPG Dad Juan Manuel Viu flew to the U.S. from Spain once again to meet with fellow DIPG Dad, John “Gungie” Rivera at The Cristian Rivera Foundation offices in New York last night. Dr. Jaume Mora, of Spain’s Hospital Sant Joan de Deu flew into Boston earlier in the week to speak with Dr. Mark Kieran of the Boston Children’s Hospital and Dana Farber Cancer Institute. The next stop on his trip included a meeting in New York with Dr. Mark Souweidane of Wiell Cornell and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. After speaking with both doctors about recent advancement in DIPG research plans, Dr. Mora met with John “Gungie” Rivera and Juan Manuel Viu at the CRF offices. From there, they enjoyed dinner at Babalu Restaurant in the Bronx to discuss upcoming collaboration to cure DIPG.