He traveled thousands of miles to each of the Bay State’s 351 cities and towns to tip back a pint of beer, and, with a final swig of his favorite golden lager Monday, Todd Ruggere’s mission of nearly nine months was complete.
Through smiles and a few tears, Ruggere, 38, of Grafton, thanked a small crowd at the Samuel Adams Brewery in Jamaica Plain for helping him raise about $40,000 for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Ruggere began his suds-soaked trip in January, bar-crawling his way through Massachusetts. He finished the journey at the brewery where he first pitched his idea.
Family members, friends, and barflies he had met on his tour joined in the celebration on Monday as he downed his last lager, and his supporters from the brewery filled and refilled his glass in bottomless congratulations.
Jim Koch, founder of Samuel Adams, presented Ruggere with a $5,000 donation to top off his charity funds. “There are people who run for governor of the state who haven’t been to every town, and he did it for beer,” said a beaming Koch.
Nearly a year ago, Ruggere told Koch he wouldn’t drink just any beer on the tour. “As much as I try other beers, I always end up back with the [Sam Adams] Boston Lager,” he said.
Ruggere and his wife, Katie, have never had cancer and do not have any close relatives with cancer, but he said his tour highlighted how lucky his family has been. “Every place I went, it seemed like everyone had had cancer,” he said. In a Brewster bar, he chatted with the three other occupants. It turned out all were cancer survivors.
Ruggere said he sometimes felt overwhelmed, spending entire weekends bar- and-town-hopping between some 20 locations, and trying to coordinate designated drivers and hotels.
Three weeks into the journey, he and Katie discovered that they were expecting their first child. “There were two or three times where I was quitting,” he said. “My wife was pregnant and I was leaving all the time.”
“We got through,” said Katie.
Their daughter is due in one week. “I asked if I could name her Sam, but [Katie] wouldn’t let me,” he said.