Alderwoman “Ginger” Rugai

      In 1989, Virginia Rugai was diagnosed with breast cancer. In the following months, friends and neighbors provided an incredible network of support for Rugai and her family as she waged a difficult battle with this horrible disease. Like so many other survivors, Ginger had an ongoing desire to continue the fight beyond her personal health, and offer assistance to other women facing breast cancer.  Five years after her initial diagnosis, Kathy O’Shea, a longtime softball player and friend of then Alderman Ginger Rugai, suggested a women’s softball tournament to benefit the Y-Me Breast Cancer Organization. Starting small with an eight team morning tournament, the tournament has blossomed into a widely recognized event, attracting over 1500 players and generating over half a million dollars for breast cancer charities. This emotional day is filled with laughter, memories, and even some tears as a community celebrates the strength of so many survivors and the legacy of lost mothers, sisters, and friends.  Recently, the American Cancer Society announced the first official Y-Me research fellowship at the University of Chicago. This grant enables physicians to setup a lab and test new ideas that may hold future answers. The results will be reviewed by the most brilliant cancer minds in Illinois.  The Y-Me tournament is held on the last Saturday of August. Any who have not attended are encouraged to do so. This is an incredibly moving day highlighted by a Survivors Game highlighting the length of time each player has survived breast cancer. Also, like any good softball tournament, a great party follows the games.  This is truly a day to remember lost love ones, to support those brave women currently struggling, and to offer hope to future generations that someday breast cancer will be cured.  Mayor Daley appointed Ginger Rugai to fill the vacancy of the 19th Ward Alderman in December of 1990. Alderman Rugai was elected for her first term in February 1991 and was subsequently reelected in 1995, 1999, 2003, and 2007.  Alderman Rugai is Chairman of the City Council’s Committee on Energy, Environmental Protection and Public Utilities.  She also serves as a member of Committees on Finance; Police & Fire; Budget and Government Operations; Committees, Rules and Ethics; Economic, Capital and Technology Development; Historical Landmark Preservation; and Transportation and Public Way. Ginger Rugai is Past President of the Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization, member of Little Company of Mary Hospital Foundation Board, Mercy Home for Boys and Girls Leader Council, Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago, and Historic Chicago Bungalow Founder and Honorary Association Board of Directors.  She was appointed to Mayor Daley’s Task Force on Women’s Health and a Commissioner of the Cook County Commission on Women’s Issues. Alderman Ginger Rugai began her career as an English teacher at Queen of Peace High School with a Bachelor of Science degree from Loyola University. Before becoming Alderman, she served as Assistant to the Director of the Beverly Area Planning Association, a member of the Illinois Senate Staff and Administrative Aide to State Senator Jeremiah Joyce.  Alderman Rugai continued her education, earning degrees from Loyola University Chicago – Master of Arts: Urban Life, Learning in 2001 and from St. Xavier University – Doctor of Public Service, Honoris Causa in 2010. During her thirty five years of community service, Ginger has received many awards including Mt. Greenwood Civic Association “2002 Women of the Year”; Irish American Alliance “Woman of the Year”; St. Joseph Seminary, Archdiocese of Chicago “Rerum Novarum Award”; Mother McAuley High School “Catherine McAuley Leadership Award”; Morgan Park United Methodist “Community Service Award”; Y-Me National Breast Cancer Organization President’s Medal; Beverly Art Center “True Believer Award” and Illinois State Crime Commission “Award of Excellence”. She is married to Ado Rugai, attorney at law. They have three children, Michael, Robert, and Karen.