No hands spaghetti dinner raises funds and laughs for Roundup River Ranch |

No hands spaghetti dinner raises funds and laughs for Roundup River Ranch

Dessert first and no utensils needed at Roundup River Ranch event in Avon

Julie Groff of Eagle experiences a camp tradition at the (No Hands) Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser for Roundup River Ranch, a summer camp that provides traditional camp experiences for kids with serious illnesses.
Roundup River Ranch/Courtesy photo

There are several fundraisers around Eagle County. Some require black tie attire, while others, like Roundup River Ranch’s (No Hands) Spaghetti Dinner, let you get down and dirty at dinnertime.

The (No Hands) Spaghetti Dinner is just what it sounds like – eating spaghetti noodles with all the sauce without the use of utensils or your hands. Roundup River Ranch uses this silly way of eating a meal as a way to welcome campers and break the ice for all the new kids coming to a new setting.

Roundup River Ranch offers old-fashioned, pure fun camp experiences for children with serious illnesses and their families. Your mom would probably never let you eat without utensils, but your mom is not running the show at Roundup River Ranch.

Roundup River Ranch is part of the free SeriousFun Children’s Network of camps that Hollywood legend and philanthropist Paul Newman started more than 30 years ago. Newman wanted a place where kids could “raise a little hell” and could escape the fear and isolation of their medical conditions. There are now 30 camps around the world. Roundup River Ranch is located along the Colorado River north of the Dotsero exit on Interstate 70 and was founded in 2006 and welcomed campers during the summer of 2011.  

The local camp got the idea for the (No Hands) Spaghetti Dinner from a SeriousFun Children’s Network camp in Florida called Camp Boggy Creek. Roundup River Ranch loved the idea to make this a tradition with the campers, but with a fun spin. Roundup River Ranch offers dessert first on the (No-Hands) Spaghetti nights, and the kids love it.

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But what prompted the decision to move this fun camp tradition into a fundraising event? 

“We want to share a unique piece of camp with everyone in our community and what a better way to do that by bringing camp to them, so they can experience what our campers do at summer camp and learn more about our mission,” said Jennifer Clark, director of marketing and communications for Roundup River Ranch.

The (No Hands) Spaghetti Dinner was held at Ticino, an Italian restaurant in Avon. Guests were welcomed with appetizers and drinks before being seated in order to experience the (No Hands) Spaghetti Dinner.

Ticino, and Italian restaurant in Avon, hosted the (No Hands) Spaghetti Dinner for Roundup River Ranch.
Roundup River Ranch/Courtesy photo

First, the dessert. Everyone was given tiramisu and reminded that it was okay to eat dessert first, just like the camp kids get to do. Next, each person was given a plate of spaghetti with sauce on top and some of the Roundup River Ranch staff showed everyone how it was done. Giggles, snorts, photos and plenty of napkins describe the scene as everyone reacted to something they’d never done before and wanted proof that they did, indeed, take part in the (No Hands) Spaghetti dinner.

“It was so fun to immerse ourselves in a camp tradition. We loved embracing our inner child and covering our faces with spaghetti and sauce,” said Julie Groff of Eagle. “We were so inspired hearing the stories from camp and we are happy to support Roundup River Ranch to give these amazing kids a life-changing camp experience filled with silly moments and the chance to just be a kid. Great event, amazing mission. We’ll be at the next one!”

And just to let everyone know, after the attendees tried to eat as much spaghetti as they could without their hands, utensils were used for the rest of the delicious meal provided by Ticino.

The SeriousFun camps provide amazing camp experiences at no cost to the families of the child who is living with serious illness. Fundraisers like this allow Roundup River Ranch to invite more kids to camp each year.

Sarah Johnson, president and CEO of Roundup River Ranch, left, and Edwards resident, Tracy Hermes, experience the (No Hands) Spaghetti Dinner just like the kids at camp. The (No Hands) Spaghetti Dinner is done on the first night of camp to break the ice for the campers.
Roundup River Ranch/Courtesy photo

The Raise a Little Hell Club was introduced to the audience in Avon during the dinner. This is a new initiative within Roundup River Ranch’s donor-giving levels. Your gift to camp of a minimum qualifying amount of $1,200 each year (or $100 per month), will welcome you to the Raise a Little Hell Club, named after SeriousFun Children’s Network founder, Paul Newman, and his famous words to let kids, Raise a little hell.” This club is a dedicated society of stakeholders (aka hellraisers) that contributes philanthropic support to Roundup River Ranch.  

“What an incredible night and an incredible mission. It’s nearly impossible to not be inspired by what is happening at Roundup River Ranch. What amazing people behind an amazing mission to change lives,” said Edwards resident Tracy Hermes. Hermes joined the Raise a Little Hell Club that night.

Countdown to Camp is also a way to give. Launched last month, the goal is simple: sponsor 100 campers in 100 days.

“Supporters of camp can donate directly to this campaign, or you can create your own fundraiser. A special thanks to our friends, the Frechette Family Foundation, who are matching every dollar donated up to $50,000,” Clark said.

The Countdown to Camp campaign ends on Sunday, June 11 at midnight – before the very first day of summer camp begins. Every dollar raised until June 12 supports children with serious illnesses and their families.

There are more fundraising events (with silverware) such as A Taste of Camp in Denver on May 18, The Bullseye Roundup, an inaugural event at a unique property at Casteel Creek in Edwards on Aug. 10 and A Grateful Harvest, a dinner at Roundup River Ranch with renowned local chefs on Aug. 12. For more information, go to

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