The Carino's Foundation

October 03, 2014


People from Italy will tell you that the harvest season is an important time of the year. The harvest is often celebrated with festivals, tours and tastings. At Johnny Carino's, this time of year marks the Big Crush - our way of celebrating the harvest season with great food and great wine. This year we are offering an incredible selection of featured wines for just $5 a glass all day, every day throughout October.

In addition to the celebration of the harvest season, October is also an important time of the year to remember those who have been affected by breast cancer. About 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime which illustrates the staggering need for awareness, support and research in this field.

This October, Johnny Carino's Big Crush is even better. We are partnering with two of the leading national breast cancer organizations, the National Breast Cancer Foundation and the Young Survival Coalition, to raise money to Stomp Out Breast Cancer...and we need the help of our guests.

Throughout the month, guests can add a $2 donation to their bill and 100% of proceeds will go to these two organizations. In return, Johnny Carino's will give our guests a $5 dining card to be used on their next visit. Donate $2 for a great cause, get $5 for some great food - that's what we call a win-win.

I urge everyone to take a closer look at these two organizations and see the wonderful and important work they are doing to bring support and education to women across the country. Then come into Johnny Carino's and enjoy great food and great wine, and help contribute to our great cause.

Together, we can help Stomp Out breast cancer one craving at a time. 


Learn more -


July 24, 2014


October 23, 2013

As we celebrate our fifteenth year of the Carino's Foundation, I've had the chance to reflect back on the opportunities we've had to help make a difference in our communities, and in yours. With your help we've been able to fulfill our goal of improving the lives of children and families in the communities we serve by supporting local charitable organizations, encouraging activism and volunteerism, and supporting education. These are just a few of the organizations we've had the privilege to partner with and support over the last fifteen years:

- Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy and Champions to Cure Duchenne ($507,000)

- Autism Speaks and Autism Society ($215,000)

- Ronald McDonald House ($150,000)

- American Youthworks ($70,000)

- First Tee of Greater Austin ($20,000)

- Special Olympics Texas ($10,000)

And many, many more. 

None of this would have been possible without the commitment and support of our partners, our team members, and our guests. On behalf of the Carino's Foundation and the many wonderful organizations we've been able to support, Thank You for your support and commitment to the Foundation and it's vision. I'm looking forward to many more great years.



April 17, 2013


March 28, 2013

2013 is already shaping up to be a very exciting, rewarding, and busy year for the Carino's Foundation. This month alone has been packed with some of this year's most anticipated events and partnerships.

We kicked off March with one of my favorite events - The Gold Stirrup Horse Show at Rodeo Austin. This marked the fifth year for the Carino's Foundation to sponsor the Gold Stirrup Show, and I cannot be more proud. With the entry fees for each of the participants funded through our pledge, we have had the privilege to watch this event grow into one of the largest horse shows in Texas for adults with special needs. It is truly a moving experience for everyone involved, and I look forward to continuing this partnership for many years to come.

March also brings attention to the fight against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) - a cause that we passionately support in memory of our friend Zach and in honor of all boys fighting DMD. The Carino's Foundation has continued our annual support of Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy(PPMD) as part of our $500,000 pledge to this amazing organization. In addition, we extended our sponsorship for a second year to CureDuchenne at their annual Champions to CureDuchenne Gala on March 22nd. The event was a huge success and a lot of fun. DMD is a fatal disease that affects over 300,000 boys worldwide. I am so proud to stand with organizations like PPMD and CureDuchenne who are relentlessly working to cure Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, and save this generation of Duchenne boys.

While March is winding down, preparations for April are in full gear. For the fourth consecutive year, The Carino's Foundation will again support Autism Speaks for National Autism Awareness Month in April. Our pledge of $30,000 will support this fantastic organization in their important autism research and advocacy efforts. With as many as 1 in every 88 children nationwide who are affected by autism, we are truly grateful for the work they do each and every day and the meaningful impact they have in our communities. Visit Johnny Carino's in April and join us as we "Light it up Blue" and raise awareness for Autism.


November 28, 2012

The cooler weather in Texas brought hot times for the Carino's Foundation's charity golf. Our restaurant managers, vendors and partners got together at the Lost Pines Resort in Bastrop, Texas where we crowned our vendor of the year, Tysons Chicken. This year's event was a huge success - we raised over $347,000 for the Foundation that will go to charities all across the country in the coming year. One of those charities we have been lucky to work with, American Youth Works, was on hand and represented by Judge Charles Webb and David Clauss who both told us about the background and history of American Youth Works, and all the great things they were doing to transform the lives  of at-risk youth through education and service, and work.

Those of you that follow our efforts know how involved we are with Autism Speaks, and the great programs we do with them throughout April and the summer months. Last month we continued that tradition in the Dallas/Fort Worth area with the Walk Now for Autism Speaks. One of the things I am most proud of is how our leaders and staff within the local restaurants get engaged with our community efforts and this year's walk was no different. Over 10,000 participants walked in this year's walk and as a Corporate Sponsor, our 10 locations across the DFW area were proud to be the official Team Captain packet pick up location so we were able to see first hand the enthusiasm and energy that is generated for this event throughout the area. It was a great event and we look forward to many more years of partnership with this great organization. 

Finally, during Veterans Day this year we were proud to partner with the Fisher House. The Fisher House provides a home away from home for military families to be close to a loved one during hospitalization for an illness, disease or injury. This organization does so many great things for our veterans and active service members within and beyond our communities and we are so grateful for the work that they do.



September 12, 2012


It’s that wonderful time of year again. Preparations for our annual golf tournament fundraiser are in full swing, and we expect to see a record-breaking turnout. It is this time of year that also gives us the opportunity to reflect on the impact that the Carino’s Foundation has made on the lives of families living in the areas we serve. One of our most recent and rewarding initiatives was our sponsorship of "Shirt Off the Back Night" at a Round Rock Express minor league baseball game.  

As part of this sponsorship, we invited Autism Speaks to be the beneficiary of the evenings raffle sales. Eager baseball fans lined up to purchase raffle tickets for a chance to win a Round Rock Express autographed player's jersey. The phenomenal support and generosity of the fans allowed us to raise $5,800 for Autism Speaks – a new record for this event.   

The Carino's Foundation also presented a $30,000 check to Autism Speaks, generated from the fundraising promotion during April's Autism Awareness Month when the Carino's Foundation donated $1 for every Kid’s Meal sold at Johnny Carino’s.

In addition to the raffle and check presentation, Autism Speaks brought along many kids and families to participate in the evening's activities, including throwing out the ceremonial first pitch and being "baseball buddies" with the players during the national anthem. It was truly a special night for everyone, and the kids from Autism Speaks had a great time. This is such a great organization that does so many wonderful things for children and families, and we are truly proud to partner with them for a third consecutive year. 

Beyond our efforts with the Foundation, our local Johnny Carino’s restaurants have been busy raising money in their respective communities benefitting organizations such as Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, The Ronald McDonald House, Caritas, Limbs for Life, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and many more. I am truly blessed to have so many great employees who are so passionate about serving their communities and helping others – and we are especially thankful for all of our wonderful guests, without whom we could not do the things that we do. 

Once again, I thank our loyal customers and Carino's Foundation supporters for enabling us to help make a difference.


Creed Ford III

President, Carino's Foundation

President and CEO, Johnny Carino's


May 22, 2012

Our activities in April for National Autism Awareness Month were a great success. Thanks to your support, we achieved our goal of serving 50,000 kids meals. That accomplishment enabled our $50,000 donation to two organizations that are leading the way for autism research and support for affected families: Autism Speaks and the Autism Society. If you kept an eye on this website last month, you learned about many individual heroes who have devoted their lives to helping this worthy cause. From an 11 year old who advocates for his brother, to the mother who was inspired to give back through the tragic loss of her son, April was filled with amazing stories. If you missed them, you can read all about our Carino's Autism Champions here.

This month we have shifted our attention to Joplin, Missouri.  Today marks a difficult anniversary for our friends in Joplin. It was one year ago that a devastating EF-5 tornado tore through the town. While our Carino's family in Joplin was spared the worst, many homes, schools, churches and businesses were destroyed. The human loss was unspeakable.

In the days, weeks and months following the tornado, it has been inspiring to witness the strength and resolve of the Joplin community. Although five schools were destroyed and another five damaged, school still started on time in August. So many businesses were destroyed or damaged, yet almost all of them have already reopened or have begun rebuilding. Joplin has welcomed over 130,000 volunteers to assist in the recovery efforts.

As Joplin comes together again for a Day of Unity, Carino's is joining in the efforts. Each day this week we will deliver lunch to a group of first-responders. It is our pleasure to recognize some of those who selflessly maneuvered the debris, set aside their own personal losses and assisted their neighbors as best they could:

  • Emergency room nurses at both St. John's Mercy Hospital and Freeman Hospital
  • Joplin Fire Department
  • Joplin Police Department
  • Empire Electric, who worked tirelessly to restore power to the area

We know there are countless others who sacrificed and deserve recognition. To help show our appreciation to the entire Joplin community, we will also feature buy one, get one free entrées all day today, May 22nd.  

To all of our friends and neighbors in Joplin: We join you in remembering what was lost, commemorating the recovery, and looking towards a brighter tomorrow.


Creed Ford III
President, Carino's Foundation
President and CEO, Carino's Italian

April 25, 2012

Melissa Winter
Founder, The Puzzling Piece

Melissa Winter is a mom on mission. The mother of a 7-year-old boy with autism, Melissa knows the needs and challenges families like hers face each day. She also understands how difficult it can be for schools and organizations to fundraise. With all of this in mind, a degree in jewelry design and a desire to get involved, Melissa created The Puzzling Piece. The Puzzling Piece is a charity that has raised much-needed funds for non-profits and has put almost 250 iPads in the hands of deserving families. 

When Melissa’s son Max was diagnosed with autism six years ago, she was in denial. While Max is now content in his mainstream first-grade classroom, it took enrolling in different schools and extracurricular activities to get to this comfortable place. As the family moved with Max from place to place, Melissa had frequent opportunities to meet other families living autism, as well as the educators, therapists and others who have dedicated their careers to changing lives. The more people Melissa met, the more she realized there was a need for special programs and services. So when her son’s school’s fundraising galas just weren’t bringing in enough money, she stepped up and created unique puzzle piece jewelry designs and sold them to help the school meet its goal. Three years later, The Puzzling Piece is only growing stronger.

Through The Puzzling Piece, individuals can purchase unique autism awareness jewelry, designed by Melissa herself. After covering her expenses, she donates all proceeds to charities that promote autism awareness and support, such as the Autism Society.

In addition to supporting autism charities and spreading awareness through her beautiful jewelry, Melissa created the iPad challenge to help families get iPads. For some individuals on the autism spectrum, the iPad has proven to have communication and educational benefits. Her efforts have made a world of difference, as the families who receive iPads from her write in their countless thank you emails.

It is through her selflessness and drive to help others that Melissa Winter should be recognized as a Carino’s Autism Champion!

April 23, 2012

Gianna Hitsos
Boston, MA

Sixteen year old Gianna Hitsos is a singer, speaker and actor with a mission: to bring awareness and to change the perception of people with autism. Gianna was diagnosed with autism at age two when she stopped talking and began to show many symptoms. At the time, doctors told her parents that she may never regain language. However, through early intervention, years of struggle and a lot of hard work, Gianna has overcome many obstacles associated with her disability, including language.

Gianna had extremely painful experiences growing up because of the misconceptions of autism, and she was treated like an outcast. Gianna is extremely smart but when she went to school, she was bullied by kids, parents and even teachers because she had a disability that no one wanted to understand. Her family had to relocate to Massachusetts to give her a better chance. 

After finding a school that understood how she learned, things improved dramatically. Gianna discovered her abilities of singing and public speaking and decided to use her gifts to "give back" and promote autism awareness. She now speaks and sings at fundraisers and events, and tells her difficult story of living with autism. She hopes to change the perception of autism so that what happened to her will not happen to anyone else. She has started an Autism Awareness Week at her high school and raises money for autism awareness.  She even sang the National Anthem at a Boston Red Sox game and a Boston University Men's Hockey game

A quote from Gianna's public Facebook page for autism awareness says, "Some people will make fun of you for who you are, but who you are makes you wonderful. Bullying is weak. Acceptance is strong." Gianna is using her talents to make a difference. Her passion to give back to others despite her autism is truly inspiring.