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Crossing the Bridge for Life

General Agent Tom Kaelin was at a restaurant one evening when he noticed a teenager wearing a unique shirt. It was an old Cross the Bridge for Life T-shirt. When Tom asked the teenager about the shirt, the young man told him all about the event and encouraged him to get involved this year. “I don’t know who he was, but he influenced me,” Tom explained.

Later, when Tom was awarded the Richard Tobin Benevolence Award, which is given to Catholic Order of Foresters top 20 agents annually, he knew exactly which organization he wanted to give the $500 award to. Tom enthusiastically chose the Cross the Bridge for Life event.

Thirteen years ago, a group of leaders from the Greater Cincinnati Life Coalition met to create an event for the community. “The purpose of this event was to gather people to honor God’s gift of human life, as well as bring awareness for the many life affirming organizations in our community,” Karen Riegler stated. At the time of this meeting, Karen was one of the Life Coalition members, representing the Diocese of Covington as the Pro-life Director. While Karen is now retired from that position, she currently serves on the Steering Committee, which includes representatives from different life coalition members, church organizations, pro-life organizations and volunteers. It is the committee that now plans the Cross the Bridge for Life event.

The event has grown so large that it outgrew the original venue and for the second year in a row, was held at Festival Park in Newport, Kentucky. While this event is not a fundraiser, the funds raised through donations and sponsorships are used to conduct the event. “This is a very large undertaking, and expenses [include] sound and stage equipment, police/traffic support, live band, etc.,” Karen described.

When the participants first arrived at the event, they were greeted by food trucks, face painters, balloon artists and live music by Easter Rising Band. After an hour of family fun, Bishop Roger Foys (Diocese of Covington), Archbishop Dennis Schnurr (Archdiocese of Cincinnati), and Bobby Schindler (President of Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network) took the stage and spoke to the participants.

Afterward, people lined up by the Purple People Bridge. More than 3,000 people sporting their purple shirts took part in this event. Included in those thousands of people were five COF Agents. “This was our first year to get involved,” Tom explained. “This is an activity I have always wanted to be involved in but never had the time.”

It is truly powerful to see a wave of people in matching shirts walk back and forth on a bridge to raise awareness for the same cause. (You might know the feeling if you’ve participated in a Feeding God’s Children event.) “Cross the Bridge for Life in all 13 years that I have been involved has brought so much energy on behalf of the sanctity of life,” Karen said. “It has also brought awareness for the more than 20 pro-life organizations that offer help, hope and support for women and men facing an untimely pregnancy.” To learn more about Cross the Bridge for Life, visit

Article by Audrey Kopecky.

Get Involved Faith, Hope, Charity, Feeding God's Children