An Interview With John 'Gungie' Rivera, Founder, Cristian Rivera Foundation
The Cristian Rivera Foundation donates all monies raised to hospitals and foundations actively researching cures for Pontine Glioma through medical trials and scientific research. The foundation has already contributed $40,000 to the research of Dr. Mark Souweidane of Memorial Sloan-Kettering and Weill Cornell Medical Center. Dr. Souweidane has dedicated his career to the surgical treatment of children with brain and spinal disorders. His novel treatment delivery approach is entering the clinical trial stage and thus far has yielded promising results. The Cristian Rivera Foundation is dedicated to supporting promising, innovative research like this in pursuit of a cure.
FS: How do you fund your mission?
JR: The foundation sells T-shirts and wristbands on its website and also encourages people to get involved in a wristband project where they sell wristbands on behalf of the foundation and send in a check for the monies raised.
Joan Hornig Jewelry chose the Cristian Rivera Foundation as its annual cause. The company designed a signature pendant influenced by the foundation and its mission. It is sold both on their website and through the foundation, with all proceeds going to the foundation.
The Cristian Rivera Foundation hosts various fundraising events throughout the year, as well as an annual gala, for which guests purchase tickets. At the Second Annual Gala, guests also got the chance to bid on valuable items and experiences in live and silent auction. These were donated by committee members and other generous individuals, so all monies raised were able to go straight to the foundation.
FS: What are the biggest challenges your organization faces as far as fundraising is concerned? How do you overcome them?
JR: The biggest barrier to getting donations is the fact that Pontine Glioma is a rare and little-known disease. Since only 300 children are diagnosed with Pontine Glioma every year, it’s a very close-knit community of affected families, and unless a friend, family member or acquaintance is afflicted with the disease, the likelihood is that a person will have never heard of it. The Cristian Rivera Foundation combats this with a multitiered awareness campaign. A billboard on Manhattan’s West Side Highway was aimed at alerting people to the disease and the foundation. The foundation also distributes literature to teach about the disease, including newsletters, business cards and a ... press kit. Donation recipient Dr. Mark Souweidane was present at the foundation’s recent fundraiser gala to talk to guests about the disease and explain to them exactly what it does to an afflicted child and [his] family.