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Gary Rushing Jr. and Sheri Reid. (Photo by Frank Mortimer)

She'll be a member of the wedding

FOXBORO - A young soldier and his fiancee are shellshocked with gratitude after a big-hearted Foxboro woman rescued their wedding plans from the problems besetting Christina's Functions on Route 1.

"It's mind blowing - talk about a shocker - that someone could be that generous, someone we don't even know," Army Staff Sgt. Gary Rushing said of the benefactor who called and offered to pay for his Aug. 11 wedding to Sheri Reid, and made good on the offer that same day.

The North Attleboro couple's wedding was in limbo because they were unable to recover their $7,500 deposit from an events management company that has been evicted from Christina's.

The ceremony and reception will instead be held at Lombardo's in Randolph.

"We were all working with stripping the wedding down as far as we could just to have the wedding," Rushing said.

For example, instead of floral centerpieces, each table was to have a candle. The use of a separate function room for the ceremony itself was to be omitted.

But last Thursday afternoon, just hours after the couple's plight was featured in news reports, Sheri's mother, Kim Reid, received a call from a Foxboro woman asking if they had a venue, and saying she wanted to pay for the wedding.

"We just kind of chatted about what's going on at Christina's and how it came to be in the paper. We had a nice conversation," Kim Reid said. "She said she'd like to help the kids. I was kind of, like, shocked."

The benefactor had just one request, a condition the family was delighted to accept: that the 150-person guest list be bumped up to 152 - so that she and her husband can attend.

"We just couldn't be more grateful to her and happy that they are going to have the wedding they dreamed of because of her," Kim Reid said.

The woman invited Kim and the couple to meet with her and her husband that evening in their Foxboro home.

During that half-hour meeting, the benefactor's husband, himself a veteran, thanked Rushing - a member of the Massachusetts National Guard who served in Iraq and Afghanistan - for his military service.

His wife wrote two checks, each for thousands of dollars, handing one to Rushing, one to Sheri Reid, for their wedding.

Rushing said the amount will also allow them to now think of taking a honeymoon.

The woman said she's never before made that type of gift to strangers in need and cannot make a habit of it - but for now, she, too, is swept up with wedding joy.

"I'm so excited. Do you know how it feels to help someone? It's awesome."

Asked her impression of the couple, who have been together for four years and rent an apartment in North Attleboro, she said: "I think they were very sincere and a lovely couple."

On Friday, Rushing flew to Texas to accompany his 10-year-old daughter, Samantha Rushing, in her flight to Boston for a month-long stay that will culminate with the wedding.

On Saturday, Samantha and Sheri Reid's daughter, Krista, accompanied Sheri, Kim and the bride's maid to Lombardo's, confirming the Aug. 11 nuptials and working out some of the details. Gary Rushing, on National Guard drill that weekend in Melrose, was unable to attend.

"Our wedding is going to be magical now. It's going to be just the way Cheri and I envisioned it to be, and it's all because of this person," he said Monday. "I can't even begin to express our gratitude."

- BY FRANK MORTIMER, SUN CHRONICLE STAFF