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Since first finding success staging a student musical fundraiser 35 years ago, Tony Raucci has helped other organizations raise funds for the St. Jude’s Children’s research Center through the St. Jude’s Connecticut Network. Next up is “An Evening from Broadway to the Great American Song Book” on Sunday, Nov. 3 at the Katherine Hepburn Theater in Old Saybrook. (Photo by Eric O’Connell/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
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The Katherine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center in Old Saybrook will host “An Evening from Broadway to the Great American Song Book,” on Sunday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m., a Broadway-style production with the funds raised going to the St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. The person responsible for putting on the show is longtime Clinton resident Tony Raucci.
To make the show a reality, Tony contacted his friend Art Bellucci, one of the performers in the event, who is part of the reason Tony could launch a successful show.
“Every time I call him up to say I have the itch to put a show on—which is anytime I watch a Judy Garland movie—he just says ‘Where and when?’” Tony says.
In order to make the event at The Kate a success, Tony needs to fill the 250-seat theater. Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased at www.katharinehepburntheater.org or at the theater, 300 Main Street Old Saybrook. Staging fundraisers for a good cause is nothing new for Tony.
Tony is the founder and president of the St. Jude’s Connecticut Network.
“I created a network in Connecticut where we coordinate fundraisers for St. Jude’s in the state. It makes it a lot easier for people to fundraise than if they were starting from scratch,” Tony explains.
Tony founded the network 26 years ago, and thus far that network has raised more than $1.2 million. Tony says that some entities may choose to do an annual charity event while others prefer to do a one-time fundraiser, which means there can be a lot of new events in the network year after year.
“It adds a lot of life and new ideas,” says Tony.
For more information on the network or to make a donation, visit www.stjudectnetwork.org.
Having been an usher at The Kate for the last two years, Tony has nothing but kind things to say about the theater named for Old Saybrook’s most famous resident.
“I love it. It’s a great theater. They have unbelievable lighting and sound for a small theater,” Tony says.
Tony says that when he contacted Brett Elliott, the executive director of the Kate, about hosting the fundraiser, Elliott was extremely supportive.
“I cannot say enough about The Kate,” he reiterates.
Tony credits his urge to volunteer to two main events in his life. The first was the time he was asked to assist with a fundraiser for his son’s school 35 years ago. The event was a music show, and it was so successful it drew almost 1,000 people.
“I got kind of bit by the bug,” Tony says after finding out how much he enjoyed putting on the show.
In fact, the show was almost legendary. Tony says that one person asked him to reserve a seat for the fundraiser. When Tony inquired as to why, it was revealed to him that one of the kids in the show was a godson of Frank Sinatra, and there was a chance that Ol’ Blue Eyes himself would drop by.
Sinatra didn’t make it, but Tony still got a story out it: “I got a call from his secretary and she said, ‘We’re so sorry Frank couldn’t make it, he was doing a concert in England and otherwise you bet your [butt] he would be there.’”
Tony and his wife were gifted a photograph and personalized autograph from Sinatra.
“Son of a gun, we almost had Frank Sinatra here for an elementary school play,” Tony says he remembers thinking.
The other event that Tony says helped inspire his involvement with fundraisers was the passing of his aunt with whom he was close. The fact that his aunt died from cancer and was involved with events for children when she was alive helped spur Tony toward doing events with St. Jude’s.
“They don’t charge kids a dime and donate their research to other hospitals. It’s my way of keeping her spirit alive,” Tony says.
Tony grew up in New Haven but has lived in Clinton for over 40 years.
“I wanted to be in the country and back in ‘77 there was plenty of woods in Clinton,” Tony recalls.
Despite his love of the way Clinton used to be, Tony notes that he is also a fan of the potential in Clinton and the development that has taken place in the town.
Tony recently retired from a long career with the company AT&T, and has vowed to keep busy with his time since then. Besides his work with the St. Jude’s network, Tony spends time working with an organization called SCORE, which helps mentor small businesses.
“It fills my time,” he says. “I knew when I retired, I wanted to keep active. I have to be active; I have to be creative.”
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