Todd Ruggere is a charity fundraiser who combines his love of the brew with concern for cancer. His strategy: Pound down a cold beer in every state and use the event to raise money to fight the disease.
Ruggere, of Boston, was in St. Paul last Saturday for his Minnesota leg of the journey. He was hosted by Half Time Rec, which opened its doors for an afternoon and evening of mingling, raffles, live music, a silent auction — and a chance to meet a guy with one of the quirkier fundraisers around.
“We raised about $2,500,” said Ruggere, who took a year off from his job as a mutual fund manager to conduct his USA Pour Tour. The money will go to Regions Hospital’s cancer center in St. Paul.
Ruggere began his “pour tour’’ earlier this year, searching the Internet for “most popular bars” in each state, and sending e-mail blasts inviting them to host him. Results have been mixed. In some states, he gets a nibble right away. In others, it’s like casting to the wind.
Minnesota, which is state number 25 on the list, was above average in its donations, he said. Many Southern states were not. States such as Ohio gave more than $7,000. One town in Connecticut — Ridgefield — set a record of $12,000.
“In Indiana, I couldn’t find anyone [sponsor], so I just drove through and had a beer,” he joked.
Ruggere, meanwhile, has a lean budget thanks to some funding from a benefactor.
Beer drinking for a cause is not new to Ruggere. In 2013, he drank a beer in each of Massachusetts’ 351 towns, raising $40,000. Last year, he stopped in 169 towns in Connecticut, raising $50,000.
Steve Mars, who owns the Half Time Rec with his brother, said he loved the concept from the get-go. He recalled getting one of Ruggere’s e-mail blasts.
“I called him immediately,” said Mars. “It was something I wanted to be part of.”
Half Time Rec pitched in $1 for every beer sold during Saturday’s fundraiser, which included auction items such as “Beer for a Year” donated by Summit Brewery, another partner.
Ruggere has flown back to Boston for a break, and is planning his next trip to several West Coast states. Anyone with ideas for bars to host the event, or a desire to donate to the cause, can go to www.usapourtour.com.
Jean Hopfensperger 612 673-4511