Joe Gallant is admittedly not a New England Patriots fan.
So when he learned in a Bangor Daily News story that an autographed Patriots football belonging to a young man killed in a motor vehicle crash last summer had been stolen, he wanted to do something about it.
Gallant, the principal of the All Saints Catholic School in Bangor, said he plans to donate an autographed Patriots football from the team’s Bangor appearance months after Super Bowl XXXVI to the Fickett family of Clifton.
Gallant’s ball is signed by players Adam Vinatieri, Bobby Hamilton and Lawyer Milloy, just like the one stolen from the Ficketts. That ball belonged to the late Harold “Thomas” Fickett III.
“The story in the paper just really touched me,” Gallant said Saturday afternoon. “I have it [the football] and don’t need it.”
Gallant, who is a New York Giants fan, has tried to reach out to the Fickett family and hopes to hook up with them on Sunday so they can have the football for their Super Bowl gathering, which includes a shrine to the late Tom Fickett.
He said he purchased his signed football at a charity auction soon after the 2001-2002 world champion Patriots made their Queen City appearance.
“I got one and just hung onto it,” Gallant said.
Soon after the Ficketts’ story was published in the BDN, Patriots fans began reaching out to the family in hopes that they could help them.
The organization itself has also lent a hand. The Patriots were planning on sending the family a football autographed by quarterback Tom Brady and a fan pack, which included winter hats, socks, a yearbook, a Brady puzzle and team photo, rubber bracelets, flags and other items, according to Julie Redwine, the team’s community relations coordinator.
Gallant, a longtime high school football official in eastern Maine, was more than happy to help as well.
“I can’t believe losing a son, and then on top of that losing something that meant something to the family,” said Gallant, who believes he officiated at least one game involving Tom Fickett during the time he played at John Bapst from 2012-2015.
In addition Tyler Crowl, a Houston Texans fan living in Texas, plans to send the Ficketts an authentic NFL game jersey signed by Brady.