2017 Benefit Gala

Cornerstone of Hope held our 14th Annual Gala on Saturday, February 25, 2017 at The Embassy Suites-Rockside Road, in Independence.  The Gala featured raffles, a live auction, silent auction, and amazing food and entertainment. Our evening was dedicated to honoring Coach Sam Rutigliano, and his relentless effort to serve those who grieve.

Coach Sam was a mentor to Mark and Christi Tripodi through their own loss and has journeyed with countless individuals and families who have experienced the loss of a loved one. Coach’s commitment to being a faithful disciple inspires those who encounter him to become closer to God. Coach Sam is sincerely a man worth celebrating!

2017 Champion of Hope: Sam Rutigliano


There are not enough words to express our love for this year’s Champion of Hope. Sam Rutigliano, a husband, father, grandfather, coach, friend and mentor, but most of all a humble, faithful servant to our Lord. His empathy and compassion toward us after the death of our son Bobby was invaluable because he too lost his own precious daughter many years ago. He and his wife Barbara gave us the gift of hope, that if they could survive, we could too. But it was more than that, it was a hope in our “faith” – the realization of things hoped for and the evidence of what is unseen that truly made us persevere. It’s why Cornerstone is here today. It’s the foundation of everything we do to serve those that grieve!

Since then, he has taken every opportunity to comfort others like ourselves. He also has a tremendous passion for helping individuals overcome obstacles, which is evident in his charity work. He is an active member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes of North East Ohio. Since 2009, his foundation, Coach Sam’s Inner Circle Foundation, has helped disadvantaged elementary students to develop the necessary skills to succeed in school and beyond by providing intensive literacy intervention integrated with health and fitness, and personal development. He is Clevelander at heart, choosing to maintain a home in Cleveland despite traveling around the country because this is where he wants to live. He and Barbara recently celebrated 50 years of marriage.

Sam Rutigliano is the classiest man you could ever be blessed to know. He will often meet with anyone we ask him to that has been through their own loss. We cannot think of a better man to be our 2017 honoree, a true humanitarian whose work in mentoring children helping them to overcome obstacles and ministering to those who grieve has lifted us all. Congratulations Coach Sam – you deserve this! – Christi and Mark Tripodi

Special Thanks

Gala Chair – Missy Hayes

Gala Committee – Katie Burns, Laura Filippi, Scott Hayes, Melissa LaPorta, Nicki Lee, Becky Manelski, Frank Prucha, Nancy Prucha, Carrie Sears, Traci Ward, Lisa Woods

Mistress of Ceremonies – Denise Dufala

Master of Ceremonies  – Jimmy Malone

Celebrity Auctioneer  – Ed Pfister III



The funds raised from our 2017 Annual Benefit Gala have been designated to support Accidental Overdose Programs, providing support to grieving individuals and families affected by overdose.