Todd Ruggere has penchant for charity and beer. And for the second time in as many years he’s combining the two.
Over the next nine months, Ruggere hopes to raise thousands of dollars for pediatric cancer research — by having a beer in every city and town in Connecticut.
That’s 169 stops. And stop number one was Saturday at Two Roads Brewing Company in Stratford.
Ruggere is working on finding a location for West Hartford. Anyone with suggestions may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How it all began
“I wanted to help,” Ruggere, 39, told Stratford Patch at the kickoff event.
The Grafton, Mass. man said it was a commercial depicting children undergoing chemotherapy that spurred on the idea of a beer tour to help kids with cancer.
Proceeds from the CT Pour Tour will benefit the children’s wing at the Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven.
‘A likeable guy’
“He’s going to raise at least $50,000,” said Brad Hittle of Two Roads, which is sponsoring Ruggere with artwork for the CT Pour Tour.
Hittle said whatever promotional materials a stop on the tour wants designed, his team will do it. And Two Roads has already dressed up Ruggere’s Chevy for the voyage (see photos).
“We have an incredibly good design group,” Hittle said. “These are the things we can do together. Todd’s such a likeable guy but serious; he has the right demeanor to do this.”
What’s more, he’s proven such a thirsty undertaking can be done.
Last year, Ruggere traveled to the 351 cities and towns in his home state of Massachusetts en route to raising $43,000 for the Jimmy Fund.
Wherever the beer takes him
I asked Ruggere, who said he was on his first beer about 2 p.m. (“Today, I have someone driving so I can have a few.”), if other potations are allowed on tour and, if not, does he ever tire of the beverage.
“Beer is just what I drink,” he said. “Beer is what everyone knows. It’s good for hanging out.”
The Mass Beer Tour took 266 days or about nine months, the same amount of time Ruggere expects the Connecticut circuit to take. Over the course of one particularly ambitious three-day period last year, he said he hit 21 stops.
“I was three hours away from home,” said Ruggere, who during non-drinking hours works at a mutual fund company. “I wanted to get as many as possible.”
But the stops aren’t always bars. For towns that lack a local watering hole, the tour sometimes relies on residents to open up their homes to Ruggere, who said he’s already set up house party and barbecue stops for the Connecticut tour.
I asked Ruggere if there were any unusual stops on his Massachusetts tour. He was quick to answer: a nudist colony in Berkshire County. And here’s the photo to prove it.
How the money is raised, where it's going
Ruggere leaves it up to the bar, home or nudist colony to decide how it wants to raise money for his cause. Two Roads donated a dollar of every pint sold from noon to 9 p.m. The Stratford brewery ended up raising about $1,200.
“A lot of bars there are raffles connected with my visit or a cover charge at the door,” Ruggere said.
Ruggere said he’s still looking for a place to drink in 10 Connecticut towns: Colebrook, Lebanon, Lisbon, North Canaan, Roxbury, Scotland, Sherman, Union, Warren and Weston.
If you can help him out, message Ruggere on Facebook or Twitteror visit the CT Pour Tour website (where you can also check out where he’ll be stopping).
“I depend on people,” Ruggere said. “When someone contacts me and gives me a location, I’m psyched.”