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Patriots Super Bowl run helps Gordon Shepard’s fund-raising efforts to restore Civil War cemetery markers

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Super Bowl Week turned into a fund-raising bonanza for Gordon Shepard in his latest efforts to honor forgotten soldiers at Riverside Cemetery. Time has worn the names off several markers in the Civil War burial plot. But Shepard – a Vietnam War veteran who has initiated several volunteer projects over the years for the betterment of veterans’ grave sites – has credited the New England Patriots Super Bowl run with paving the way for a better financed project.

“I sold 470 tickets alone from last Monday to Sunday. And that’s close to the 1,000 tickets we sold overall,” Shepard said in an interview this week at the Arthur F. DeFranzo Veterans of Foreign War Post 2346.

“Having the Patriots playing right up to the Super Bowl has really helped our raffle this year. I had one guy who was walking on the sidewalk down on Cliftondale Square … That last six days was like a feeding frenzy,” Shepard said.

“Our main goal this year is to get some lettering on those markers so that anyone who goes up in the graveside area can see who is there,” he said.

Star Pats quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots made the project possible by donating an autographed photo that was used as a centerpiece in a Super Bowl collage that includes replica tickets for the first four Super Bowl games won by the Patriots.

Caroline Lentini, owner of the All About Hair salon, won the Brady prize when it was drawn during the raffle held at last Sunday night’s Super Bowl party at the VFW lodge. Gail Winters picked out the winning ticket at halftime. “This is great. I’m going to have it put up in my living room,” Lentini said.

More than 200 were on hand for the VFW Super Bowl party.

“It was very gloomy at halftime. But the Patriots rallied to come back … so it was a great game. And with the Patriots playing all the way to the Super Bowl, this really helped out,” Shepard said.

“Tom Brady and the Patriots are responsible for this project. And we are grateful to them and all 1,000 people who donated by buying a raffle ticket … I’d like to thank Tom Brady and Stacey James of the New England Patriots for making this raffle possible,” he said.

To prevent cars from running over the grass, Shepard said, he would like to install curbing. “I also want to re-letter the Civil War markers and have the wall around the burial area re-pointed,” he said. Shepard said another part of the project involves the replacement of granite cannonballs that once stood on platforms near the two granite cannons that flank the steps leading into the Civil War burial plot.

Anyone interested in donating to the veterans’ cemetery projects can contact Shepard at 781-231-0374.

 

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