A program around for fifty years is sure to create some dazzled tales of times long ago. In my tenure at The Bridge to Recovery, I’ve certainly heard a few of them and look forward to sharing many of those with you over the next year as we celebrate our 50th birthday.
Like, for example, how the men’s house was acquired from a friendly family of the program who won big in Las Vegas. But alas, that will be for another day.
Instead, I want to share with you the story of the bridge (or bridges, now). It can be found illustrated in our logos, brochures, and website. It is referenced time and again in both a literal and figurative sense. I’m talking about THE bridge: the iconic walking bridge.
For those unaware, The Bridge to Recovery is situated on 115 acres in beautiful rural Kentucky. Through rolling hillside cuts a creek that goes through our property. The presence of this creek had a tremendous impact on our founders settling in the area after other properties were explored and introduced numerous issues, including the inability to access water.
This creek is truly a bedrock of what was to become The Bridge to Recovery. To cross the creek in those early days of our program, one would find a few suspended boards suspended and a delicate balancing act required to use it. A huge need existed for a safe pedestrian bridge for our clients to have access to, and our founders, Paul & Carol Cannon, reached out for help.
The story goes as follows:
Carol’s father, a teacher from Alaska, journeyed to Bowling Green, Kentucky. With his own skills, he built a suspension bridge spanning the entirety of the creek bed. He built the bases on each side with rock gathered from the creek. Upon completion, that suspension bridge carried thousands of clients across it, survived decades of storms and floods, and became the iconic emblem to represent what the program would become: a bridge from hurting to healing.
Today, that bridge, built by an extremely skilled craftsman, is fully functional and mechanically sound. Sadly, however, it had to be retired in 2021. Because of its age and the inability to historically verify licensed work had been utilized in its creation, it became impossible to get it safety-certified for use.
The idea of retiring our iconic bridge was heartbreaking, and we were facing an impossible task: how do we, fifty years later, replace our beloved pedestrian bridge so that our clients can safely cross the creek? It was a lofty task, and because of the nature of what we were doing, required us to consider not just cost, labor, and space, but also sentimental value.
It was decided that we would build a new highly functional bridge with a focus on safety and longevity. We recognized that we would not try and replicate the beauty of the iconic bridge, but would complement it with a safe, concrete bridge walkway. Built opposite our iconic historical bridge, it allowed for the picturesque icon to still be the focal point.
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The Heart of Phil Leedy Lane
“ Honestly the Bridge taught me something I already knew but had to remember. I am so damn special, valid, and important. Everyone in my life saw it, but me. The Bridge just showed me how to look in the mirror to see for myself. ”
- Jewel, Alumnus