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Brace aids Springfield, with help from Patriots

Posted by Shalise Manza Young, Globe Staff  June 21, 2011 07:02 PM

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Since the June 1 tornadoes that hit his native Springfield, Ron Brace has been looking for ways to help the people of the city recover and rebuild from the devastating storms.

After a fashion show fundraiser earlier this month which marked his first event for Springfield, Brace was in the city today to announce a fundraising initiative for Western Massachusetts.

He was at Springfield College with Mayor Domenic Sarno and Pats Hall of Famer Andre Tippett, where the trio announced a partnership with the United Way that aims to raise $200,000 to aid the area's recovery.

A tearful Brace said, "This is where I grew up. This is the place that made me who I am. Every chance I get to help Springfield I will. We need to keep rebuilding this city and make it even better than before these tornadoes came in."

Donations can be made through the United Way of Tri-County website or by dialing 211 toll free - and every dollar up to $100,000 will be matched by the Patriots Charitable Foundation and the Kraft Family.

In a statement, Robert Kraft said, "The tornadoes that touched down in central and western Massachusetts earlier this month completely demolished many homes and ravaged communities throughout the region. While the news and images were devastating, the countless examples of volunteerism and the outpouring of support has been inspirational. Myra and I wanted to offer our support as well and are proud to have partnered with the United Way/Mass2-1-1 disaster relief fund. Myra has served as chair for the United Way for the past couple of years and has a long history with them.

"With her intimate knowledge of the programs that United Way supports, it made our selection for this contribution very easy, as we know that 100 percent of the proceeds collected will be used to benefit families who are in need. We applaud the countless volunteers and all those who have already contributed to this relief effort. They make us proud to be New Englanders."

Brace will be part of another event in Springfield on Friday, when the New England Patriots Alumni Club holds another of its "Football for You" camps; Brace will serve as the special guest speaker, hoping to inspire the campers as a Springfield native who became a professional athlete.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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