New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley celebrates his 2-yard rushing touchdown against the Miami Dolphins during the second quarter of their game this past December. Ridley, a former Trinity Episcopal Day School and LSU standout, is set to come to Natchez April 5 for the second-annual Hometown Huddle even to help raise money for Ballet Magnificat! and the Guardian Shelter. (Matthew J. Lee \ The Boston Globe)
New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley celebrates his 2-yard rushing touchdown against the Miami Dolphins during the second quarter of their game this past December. Ridley, a former Trinity Episcopal Day School and LSU standout, is set to come to Natchez April 5 for the second-annual Hometown Huddle even to help raise money for Ballet Magnificat! and the Guardian Shelter. (Matthew J. Lee \ The Boston Globe)

Ridley, Bolden to be featured guests at Hometown Huddle

Published 12:01am Friday, March 15, 2013

NATCHEZ — This year, New England Patriots running back Stevan Ridley plans to bring a teammate into the huddle.

That’s the Hometown Huddle, to be exact.

Last spring, Ridley returned to Natchez after his rookie season with the Patriots to help his mother, Carolyn, raise money for Ballet Magnificat! and the Guardian Shelter. The former Trinity Episcopal Day School and LSU standout will return to his hometown once again, but joining him will be fellow Patriots running back Brandon Bolden.

“Brandon is like a little brother to me,” Ridley said. “We’re both from the South, and we both ended up at New England. He also traveled down the same kind of path I have through life, and he’s getting to see my hometown and also getting to chill with the people there.”

Bolden, who’s from Louisiana but played college ball at Ole Miss, will join Ridley in Natchez April 5 at the Natchez Community Center on 215 Franklin St. Ridley will sign autographs and will do a live interview conducted by former Trinity Episcopal sports commentator Howard Jones.

The event will help cover the cost of bringing Ballet Magnificat!, a Jackson-based Christian ballet group, to Natchez Nov. 29. After expenses are paid for the performance, any extra money from ticket sales goes toward the Guardian Shelter.

“Anything I can do to help (my mother) out and to get them to come down here and perform is huge for me,” Ridley said. “As many times as we can get (Ballet Magnificat!) to come down, we need to do that.

Patriots running back Brandon Bolden runs past the Denver Broncos’ Chris Harris for a big gain during fourth quarter of their game this past October. Bolden, who played at Ole Miss, will join Ridley for the event. (Matthew J. Lee \ The Boston Globe)
Patriots running back Brandon Bolden runs past the Denver Broncos’ Chris Harris for a big gain during fourth quarter of their game this past October. Bolden, who played at Ole Miss, will join Ridley for the event. (Matthew J. Lee \ The Boston Globe)

“With the Guardian Shelter, everyone knows what they do. I always try to give my time and dedicate myself as much as I can with the limited time I have off. These are two causes that will be great contributions.”

Carolyn said bringing in Ballet Magnificat! cost approximately $6,000 last year, and the first-annual Hometown Huddle last April raised $3,737 toward that cost. She said people are more than welcome to donate to either the ballet or Guardian Shelter, even if they have no interest in Stevan.

“They may not be interested in athletics, the Patriots or even football, but they might have a heart for children or the arts,” Carolyn said. “They can support us by buying tickets for students, or we’ll still accept donations for the ballet or Guardian Shelter.”

She also said the Hometown Huddle gives her family a chance to give back to the community that has meant so much to the Ridley family.

“We don’t ever want to forget, we’re hometown people — an ordinary family,” Carolyn said. “We like having the opportunity to give back however we can. People ask Stevan to come and speak or make a showing, and it’s really humbling.”

Stevan said he’s hoping this year’s event raises even more money that last year’s.

“My challenge for the community is for more faces to show up, because it’s really going to a good cause,” he said. “Anytime you can come home to see your people, it’s a great day.”

Stevan will sign autographs from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. the night of the event before his interview begins at 7.