Inspiration for 1993 film ‘Rudy’ speaking this week in Reno

Published: May. 17, 2022 at 6:33 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (NNIA) - The Northern Nevada Italian Association (NNIA) welcomes former Notre Dame football inspiration Rudy Ruettiger as the featured speaker of this year’s annual fundraising dinner, set for Thursday, May 19, at 6 p.m. at the Eldorado Hotel & Casino.

The NNIA Dinner event also includes an authentic Italian buffet, including the Eldorado’s famous mushroom ravioli, all beverages, and a live auction.

Ruettiger, one of 14 children, is a Navy veteran who used his G. I. Bill benefits to enroll in Indiana’s Holy Cross College and then the University of Notre Dame in 1974. He was a walk on for the football program at only 5 feet 6 inches tall, and 165 pounds.

His determination and drive got him accepted as a defensive end. He gained attention for his 14-second final play in Notre Dame’s home game against Georgia Tech when he sacked opposing quarterback Rudy Allen and ecstatic teammates carried him off the field, the only player to ever receive that honor.

In 1993, TRISTAR productions dramatized his early life and college career with the film “Rudy,” which USA Today ranked as the #1 “Best Football Movie of All Time.”

Ruettiger has been recognized with many awards for his public speaking, writing and charitable work. He is currently promoting his play “Dream Big: Rudy Ruettiger Live on Broadway” with daughter Jessica making her debut. Additional shows are planned for Chicago, Boston and Las Vegas.

The NNIA was founded in 1992 by Reno businessmen Al Lazzarone and Jack T. Reviglio, The non-profit supports post high school education with scholarships to the University of Nevada (UNR) and provides financial assistance to numerous local charities in northern Nevada. To date, the NNIA has donated more than $300,000 to northern Nevada charities and awarded nearly 200 students with UNR scholarships totaling more than $1.1 million.

Tickets to the NNIA Dinner are $150 per person, $1500 per table (of ten) and may be purchased by contacting Dale Lazzarone at or 775.846.0044.

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