THE STORY OF HANDS ACROSS THE BRIDGE
Years ago, two women in recovery read an article about National Recovery Month and realized people all over the United States were celebrating their recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. They decided they would stand on top of the Burnside Bridge at daybreak to celebrate that they were no longer under the bridge in their addictions, but on top of the bridge to celebrate their recovery. This decision marked the beginning of the Hands Across the Bridge event, a collaboration between Oregon and Washington to celebrate National Recovery Month.
Patty Katz and Louise Wedge, along with the support of the Recovery Association Project and several people from the recovering community, held the first Hands Across the Bridge celebration on the I-5 bridge in 2001. That first year saw about 200 people and the following year’s event grew to include 500 people. Using the principles of Grassroots organizing and leadership development, Hands Across the Bridge has stirred the support of elected officials, faith-based leaders, community organizations, and thousands of people from the recovery community.
In 2019, Louise Wedge passed away from health complications and we saw the devastating effects the COVID 19 isolation and stress had on our recovery community. Our board was heartbroken to lose one of our founding members.
Then on June 27th, we were devastated again, when our other founder, Patty Katz, passed away from liver cancer. These amazing women are the reason we have an event. It was their dedication and leadership that has passed on to us the legacy of Hands Across the Bridge.
This year and every year, we want to honor and thank these women for all they have done for our community. Below you find the memorial videos for both our founders and we look forward to seeing you all on the bridge each Labor Day as we celebrate Patty and Louise at our annual event, Hands Across the Bridge.