The Rugiero Promise Foundation will be hosting the seventh annual Rugiero Casino Royale on Oct. 28 at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center in Dearborn. DBusiness Daily News spoke with Anthony Rugiero, president and CEO of Roman Village Cucina Italiana in Dearborn and Antonio’s Cucina Italiana in Dearborn Heights, Canton Township, and Farmington Hills, about the foundation’s work and supporting diabetes research at the University of Michigan.
- DDN: What inspired you to host this event?
AR: We’re raising money for diabetes research through the University of Michigan in honor of my dad who passed away from diabetes and was treated there. My brothers and I decided it would be a good way to honor him and that a casino night would be a little different than traditional golf fundraisers that a lot of people do. This is going to be our seventh annual event and we started planning this year’s event the day after last year’s event finished.
- DDN: What are guests dining options?
AR: It’s a very exciting evening, we have a lot going on. Aside from the fact that it’s a casino-themed event, we have food stations set up including carving stations, pasta, and coney island, so we have a number of different varieties of food, which is always exciting. It’s more of a strolling supper, so we have tables and chairs, but we want people to be walking and mingling. One of our sponsors, Tito’s Vodka, will be hosting a martini station and then we’re starting off the evening with champagne and ending it with limoncello.
- DDN: What is the evening’s entertainment going to look like?
AR: We’re going to have 30 official casino dealers that play downtown come in and we’ll have blackjack, roulette, craps, poker, and other games so we’ll go through the motions as if it’s a real game, but it’s all for charity, so we’re not playing for money. Guests get play money and when you win you turn it in for vouchers that are chances to win prizes throughout the night, so if you do well at the tables, you have more chances to win. Some of the prizes are flat screen TVs and trips to Las Vegas, so it’s going to be a really exciting night for a great cause.
- DDN: What goes into planning something like this?
AR: There’s so much involved, we do a live and silent auction and this year we’re bringing in Christopher Aslanian, who’s a professional live auctioneer who does a lot of auctions in town. We’re also bringing in a new emcee and are introducing a group called Jester, which is a group that handles all of the live online auction items, and there will be more things being added as we go through the entire night. We’ve got such great people from the community coming together to put together a great event and hopefully raise even more money for research against this horrible disease.
- DDN: What will the proceeds go towards?
AR: The money goes directly to the University of Michigan where we’ve formed the Antionio Rugiero Diabetes Research Fund in honor of my dad. The money is put into the fund so we can make sure that it’s not put towards travel or something else and that it’s all spent on diabetes research. So the doctors at the Brehm Center at U-M are utilizing those funds strictly for research and finding a cure for diabetes. We’ve come a long way since our first event. I formed the Rugiero Promise Foundation and in our first year we raised $30,000, and we knew from that initial response there was the need to do more, and every year it has gotten better and better. We’ve been very successful with our foundation and we host other events throughout the year for the community, but this is our big one and everything goes back to finding a cure.
Ticketing information for Saturday’s event can be found here.