Having helped out Wilmington residents for much of his life, tragedy forced George Bradley to ask the community to return the favor. If Friday night was any indication, his fellow residents are more than happy to step up.
Residents packed Tewksbury Country Club on Friday night for a benefit event for Bradley, whose North Street home was destroyed in a December fire. While his home was eventually demolished, Bradley is hoping to rebuild in the same spot where his parents built the house after World War II.
Bradley doesn’t, however, have insurance, which makes the process a bit more difficult. That’s where more than 100 of his fellow residents come in, helping raise money by bidding on silent auction items, buying 50/50 raffle tickets and showing their support throughout the last month-plus.
“Wilmington is a very generous town,” said Bradley, who owns the house along with his sister, a Reading resident. “To be in the community donating like I have been, now it’s coming back to me. I’m really stubborn. I don’t like people to help me do things. But now, I need it.”
Bradley said the money will help him pay off past bills and pay for the foundation to be laid in the spot his home used to sit. Then, it’s time to get to work.
Having a construction background, Bradley said he plans to build his new home from the ground up. He has several friends in the industry who have already volunteered to donate materials, which will make the process easier.
“It’s great to see that everyone is willing to help out a neighbor,” said Jennifer Connell, a neighbor who helped organized Friday’s fundraiser. “Whatever we can raise (Friday) is more than he had yesterday.”
Tewksbury Country Club donated its facility at no charge for the event, and set up for about 125 people. Within 45 minutes of the start time, 100 people were already in attendance.
“Having something like this is so overwhelmingly devastating, and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody,” said Bradley. “The amount of support I’m getting from around town keeps me going strong. We’re going to rebuild, and I can’t wait to start banging the hammer and getting to work.”