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Bart Starr and a Legendary Tradition

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This Rawhide legend begins with a call.

Days after capturing his 3rd NFL Championship, football legend Bart Starr received a call from a stranger. The man on the other end introduced himself as John Gillespie and briefly explained his program, a modest home for troubled boys in New London, WI, called Rawhide. Without thinking twice, Bart asked John to join him for dinner at his home in Green Bay so they could discuss further.

“Do you want to come to Green Bay right now?” Starr said.

In the early days of Rawhide, Bart brought a great deal of attention to the organization. He championed its mission, inspiring business leaders and fellow players to chip in. Eighteen of Bart’s Packers teammates and nearly 100 Fox Valley business leaders came together at a luncheon on December 16, 1966 to secure the 700-acre campus Rawhide remains on today.

The list of Packers legends who attended the fundraiser is a Who’s Who of gridiron giants:

Fuzzy Thurston | Elijah Pitts | Bob Long | Ken Bowman | Carroll Dale | Jerry Kramer |  Hank Jordan | Jim Taylor

When more bills came due in 1968, Bart again pledged his support. At the time Bart only made $10,000 a year playing football; however, by capturing the MVP of Super Bowl II, Bart won a brand new, candy red Corvette.

“Bart never had an agent, not in 16 years, and he never had any money either,” Cherry said.

Though driving a family station wagon at the time, Bart Starr and his wife Cherry raffled off the Corvette with all proceeds going to Rawhide. Tickets were sold for one $1 apiece. In 1968 Green Bay, Wisconsin, the population sat at about 47,000. The raffle brought in just over $40,000 in three days, lifting Rawhide out of debt, allowing John and Jan Gillespie to focus on serving youth, not fundraising.

Bart and Cherry fondly tell that story, not asking for praise, but rejoicing in the incredible joy it brought them.

“The Gillespies actually gave us the best gift of our marriage,” Cherry said. “We’re so thankful they asked us to help.”

Bart and Cherry remain dedicated to Rawhide as wonderful role models for hundreds of boys. They have donated countless hours sharing the Rawhide story, helping raise funds, visiting with the boys.

Follow our #rawhideMVP and join a legendary tradition of serving Wisconsin’s at-risk youth and their families. They need your support.

“I’m thrilled and honored to have been a member of the Green Bay Packers,” Bart Starr says from his office in Birmingham, Ala., “but on another plateau is the Rawhide Boys Ranch because of what it has meant … to so many youngsters who need this type of facility to change, grow, mature and expand their lives.”