Crawling for a good cause

Jesse Camilles bartender Willie Levesque waits on Sofia Ricciardi-Swaby, Stefanie Zottola and Danny Suarez who were at the bar as part of a pub crawl group raising money for the Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung Memorial Fund Saturday afternoon. –RA ARCHIVE

Jesse Camilles bartender Willie Levesque waits on Sofia Ricciardi-Swaby, Stefanie Zottola and Danny Suarez who were at the bar as part of a pub crawl group raising money for the Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung Memorial Fund Saturday afternoon. –RA ARCHIVE


NAUGATUCK — A group of 56 people with connections to Dawn Hochsprung — including friends, family and friends of friends and friends of family — went on a pub crawl Saturday to raise money for the Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung Memorial Fund.

“We’re calling it a pub crawl for a cause,” said George Ricciardi, who helped organize the event and owns several of the bars included in the crawl.

Hochsprung, Naugatuck native, was killed while trying to save her students during the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that took the lives of 26 students and staff in December.

Organizers were planning a pub crawl to raise money for charity before the Sandy Hook tragedy occurred. Afterward, deciding to support the memorial fund in Hochsprung’s name was an easy choice, said co-organizer Audra Ramos.

Organizers plan to make the pub crawl an annual tradition. The event will “keep (Hochsprung’s) memory alive” and “turn something tragic into something positive,” said Allison Ramos, whose family knew Hochsprung.

The pub crawlers began at Tryst Lounge in Waterbury at 1:30 p.m. From there, they took a coach bus donated by Town and Country Transportation to the Old Corner Cafe and Jesse Camille’s Restaurant in Naugatuck. Then they returned to Waterbury for stops at the Speak Easy Cafe and The Hills Restaurant, before ending at The Loft.

All of the bars donated something for the pub crawl, from a free shot to a food buffet, along with drink specials.

Each participant raised at least $45 in donations. Major donors’ names and business logos were on the back of the green T-shirts that pub crawl participants wore. The shirts had shamrocks on the front — each representing someone whose life was taken at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012.

The pub crawl raised more than $2,000 for the memorial fund.

Hochsprung would have “hated” the pub crawl, but she would have supported the cause, said her daughter, Erica Lafferty.

So far, about $65,000 has been raised for the Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung Memorial Fund, she said. The money will be used to provide scholarships to Naugatuck High School students pursuing careers in education.

“I know how much she loved children,” Lafferty said. “That’s why she pushed me to go into education.”

Attendees, many of whom knew Hochsprung, described her as a caring person who took a special interest in kids, and in making sure they were safe. They commended her bravery in trying to protect Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“In the face of danger, she did something most people wouldn’t do,” said Erich Stewart, a friend of Lafferty’s fiancee, Christopher Smegielski.

For information about donating to the Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung Memorial Fund, visit www.dawnhochsprungmemorialfund.org.

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