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The New York City-based The Cristian Rivera Foundation hosted an event on June 13 in Hoboken to raise money for a cure for a rare, inoperable brain stem tumor.
The event, held at the Zylo Tuscan Steak House, helped raise $55,000 for a cure for Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG).
Saturday Night Live's, Kenan Thompson, and Real Housewife of New Jersey star, Danielle Staub were in attendance, with a featured performance by past 'Sinatra Idol' winner Eric DeLauro.
New Jersey Devils Captain Zach Parise made a surprise appearance to auction off an autographed hockey stick and jersey. The money was donated to the Pediatric Brain and Spine Center at Memorial Sloan Kettering and Weill Cornell Medical Center . "With all of the hard work and passion we see from the Cristian Rivera Foundation and especially its founder, John "Gungie" Rivera, I have no doubts we will realize our dream," said Dr. Mark Souweidane in a release, who has dedicated his career to curing DIPG, which has no known survivors.
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.
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
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.
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.