120 Guitars Jump Start Therapy for Troops at Shepherd Center

8:26 PM, Feb 24, 2011   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- The guitar and its music have become most important ingredients in the process of healing. In just weeks at the Shepherd Center, Marine Lance Corporal James Sperry, seriously wounded in the Iraq-Afghanistan war zone, has learned the basics.

Although music is a known therapy for the brain injured soldiers, the problem was not enough guitars. 11Alive's Help Desk got involved with the effort, and now the guitars are flowing in from across the United States.

Less than a month ago, the Shepherd Center had only two guitars for its music therapy program for brain injured troops just back from the war zones, today they have more than 125.

Shepherd CEO Gary Ulicny says he is overwhelmed.

"Something starts like a small idea and I thought maybe we'd get five, six, seven guitars -- now everybody can have a guitar. This really means a lot to the guys here. It sends a very powerful message to them," Ulicny said.

More than 20 guitars were donated by 11Alive viewers and now more than 100 are arriving from all over the country. They were collected in a major effort spearheaded by the National Pawnbrokers Association and its former President, Dave Adelman of Atlanta.

"Being a veteran myself and having been overseas, when I heard about this project, it was a no-brainer. I just had to jump in," Adelman said.

There were so many new guitars coming, thanks to Adelman and others, that it took a truck to get them to the Shepherd Center.

For Center founder Alana Shepherd, it was quite special.

"I just walked by one of the cardboard boxes the guitars are in and somebody had written on it -- 'You are not forgotten.' That is special," Shepherd said.

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