Rihanna, Mark Sanchez raise money for charities

Singer Rihanna performs at the Pepsi Fan Jam Super Bowl Concert on South Beach, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2010 in Miami Beach, Florida. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini)

February 6, 2010 7:45:49 PM PST
Inspired by a young friend who died from leukemia, singer Rihanna is working to get help for those who suffer from the disease.

Rihanna was among the celebrities who submitted a request for funding to Pepsi's Refresh Project, which doles out $20 million to various causes, and was at the foundation's kickoff party Friday night during Super Bowl festivities. The singer is trying to raise money for DKMS, which tries to find bone marrow donors for those suffering from leukemia.

"If we win, this would really help us recruit 4,000 individual donors," she said.

For Rihanna, the connection is personal. She was active last year in trying to find donors for 6-year-old Jasmina Amena, who died last month. They became friends.

"She was a very free, fun spirited little girl, full of energy, always happy, always energetic," Rihanna said. "I always remember she wouldn't sit still. She was always running around, always had a smile on her face."

Also on hand for the event was New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, who received $25,000 for an organization to help kids suffering from juvenile diabetes.

This is Sanchez's second year at Super Bowl festivities. Last year, he wasn't drafted so he didn't get to do much, and this year, his Jets came one game shy of getting to the Super Bowl, making the trip to Miami a bit tough.

"You know it's hard. The loss stings a little bit, but at the same time we really have something to build on as a team," he said. "You know Rex (Ryan), our coach, challenged at the end of the year, and said, we've gotta get two quarters better. Two quarters better and we might be playing in Dallas next year."

The Super Bowl will be in Dallas in 2011.