DECATUR — Chef Ryan Rogiers, a culinary arts instructor at Richland Community College, has always enjoyed cooking meals for others, and on Aug. 31, he will get the chance to cook a meal honoring someone very near and dear to his heart: his mother.
“My mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease several years ago,” Rogiers explained, adding that when she was diagnosed, he was inspired to find a way to help those people affected by the disease. “I started running during a tour in Iraq and always wanted to run the Chicago Marathon, so when I came home, I signed up and learned I could run for a charity and do some good while working towards one of my bucket list goals.”
Rogiers joined the Alzheimer’s Association’s Team Alz Stars in 2009 and has since run three marathons in an effort to raise money for Alzheimer’s research.
And he’s not done yet.
This year, he is running on Team Alz Stars in the Chicago Marathon on Oct. 7, and on Aug. 31, he and his students are hoping to garner some community support for the cause when they prepare and serve a five-course charity dinner as a tribute to Rogiers’ mother, Liz, and the many others affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
“When we heard about what Chef Rogiers is trying to do, I thought it was really awesome,” said Abbigayle Schroeder, a second-year culinary arts student who is looking forward to doing some of the prep work for the dinner. “It’s a really great charity.”
“I think the dinner is a great way to raise money for Alzheimer’s research,” agreed first-year student Ashley Steffen. “It’s not a typical fundraiser, and I’m glad that we get to help (the cause and Chef Rogiers).”
With courses including corn chowder, heirloom tomatoes, watermelon “ceviche,” roasted chicken and chocolate, Rogiers said he is looking forward to using fresh, locally-grown ingredients for the dinner.
“I’m going to use some produce from the farmers market and the Richland student farms,” said Rogiers, noting that nonalcoholic drinks, such as fennel, apple and chamomile iced tea and cucumber mint and ginger soda, will accompany each course.
The dinner, which costs $40 per person and requires a reservation, will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Shillings Salon. All proceeds will go toward Alzheimer’s research.
With Alzheimer’s disease affecting more than five million Americans, Rogiers said he is hopeful for a large turnout.
“We have about 30 people signed up for the dinner so far and we’re hoping to double that number,” he said. “I just want the dinner to help raise awareness about Alzheimer’s disease. I’m trying to raise as much money as I can for research, and Richland and the students have been so great in getting behind this effort.”
Rogiers said he’s excited for his parents to attend the dinner, as well.
“They’re really supportive of this,” he said. “It’s good food for a good cause, and I hope it’s a good, fun night for everyone.”
To make a reservation for the charity dinner, contact Linda Hays at 875-7211, ext. 740. Donations can also be made to Rogiers and Team Alz Stars at http://act.alz.org/site/TR?px6169092&pgpersonal&fr_id2101&etH1LNTHI435dQTmtUzIiPAA&s_tafId13569.