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Beer hop

Grafton man heads to area as he drinks a beer in each Mass. town for charity

Todd Ruggere, at right, in Orange with two supporters at one of his most memorable and helpful visits so far.
contributed photo

Todd Ruggere, at right, in Orange with two supporters at one of his most memorable and helpful visits so far. contributed photo

DEERFIELD — In the newly reopened Champney’s Restaurant and Tavern at The Deerfield Inn this Friday evening , after Todd Ruggere knocks back a Samuel Adams beer, he will have 224 more to go — just not all in one sitting.

The 38-year-old Grafton man has until Dec. 31 to visit the 351 cities and towns in the state to raise money for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. At each stop he drinks a Sam Adams, his favorite beer, in the hopes of getting some donations from fellow patrons.

So far, he says he has raised nearly $10,000 in 127 towns in four months.

What he calls The Mass Beer Tour has gained attention across the state. Restaurants and residents have all reached out to Ruggere to have him visit.

“Everyone loves it, and I wish I had a nickel for every time someone said, ‘I wish I came up with the idea’,” Ruggere told The Recorder as he planned for his Franklin County visit.

The newly renovated and reopened Deerfield Inn invited Ruggere to have his Deerfield beer on Old Main Street.

He is scheduled to arrive at Champney’s at 6 p.m.

While in Franklin County, he also plans to visit The Red Door in Greenfield, The Montague Book Mill, Snowzees in Sunderland, and The West End Pub in Buckland.

Generous Orange

His most memorable stop so far has been in Orange. Though it is one of the poorest towns in the state, people there managed to raise the biggest donation — $1,164.

The manager of R Cee’s Pub on Main Street in Orange had visited 40 other businesses in town to get raffle donations for a fundraiser for Ruggere.

“It was the best stop. Everyone was really excited,” Ruggere said.

“I go to any place that reaches out to me,” said Ruggere.

Some towns without bars or taverns are more difficult for Ruggere. For these situations, residents can invite Ruggere to visit their home for a beer. On Friday, a woman from Peru learned of Ruggere’s mission, called him and invited him to come have a beer at her house.

“I’m excited, because that is one of the hardest towns for me to find a place,” Ruggere said. The small Berkshire County town has about 850 residents.

When Ruggere started, he needed help with 100 places. Over the past few months, that number has dwindled to 27.

Ruggere is still looking for places to go in Rowe, Heath, Hawley, Leyden and Leverett.

Outside the county, Ruggere needs to find places in Savoy, Middlefield, Montgomery, Goshen, Chester, Chesterfield, Blandford, Tolland, Mount Washington and Lanesborough,

To complicate his quest, in his travels Ruggere discovered nine officially dry towns — Alford, Chilmark, Dunstable, Gosnold, Hawley, Montgomery, Mount Washington, Needham, and Westhampton.

The beer tour started on a whim. One day, the mutual fund company employee was having a trivia contest with a coworker.

“I was trying to list all the towns one day and could only come up with 150, so I look at a map and saw all the crazy towns: Washington, Florida, Peru, Gosnold ... ” Ruggere recalled. “So I decided to have a beer in all of them.”

He set a one-year deadline starting on Jan. 4.

Ruggere chose Dana-Farber Cancer Institute because of years of seeing commercials and news programs on young kids with cancer.

“I’ve always wanted to help,” he said.

Ruggere does the beer tour on the weekends and evenings. He has only taken one day off from work, so far. Some of the distances he travels require him to make several trips unless someone offers him a place to stay. For instance, The Deerfield Inn has offered Ruggere a room for the weekend.

To complete western Massachusetts, Ruggere said he expects to be back nine more times.

As Ruggere has travelled the hills, cityscapes and coastline of the commonwealth, he has been surprised at how welcoming and charitable people are.

“When I go places now, they have fundraisers set up for me. People have such big hearts. It’s unreal. I just have to show up!” Ruggere exclaimed.

The day a Plum Island resident lost his home to the ocean this winter, Ruggere had a drink with the man. In Plympton, Ruggere had a drink with a llama. Then, in early March, Ruggere stopped in Mendon, where he took a swig of beer with Maxwell the Mule at Spring Willow Farm.

Though he is on a year-long beer tour, Ruggere actually isn’t a huge beer drinker. And he’s set up some safety precautions.

“If I drive on my own, I limit myself to three or four stops for the day,” Ruggere said. “If someone drives me, I can go to six or seven places. Surprisingly, tons of places have offered to put me up for the night.”

For more information or to donate, visit Ruggere’s blog at www.351samadams.com.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:
kmckiernan@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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