By David Cooley.
Thousands of tri-state residents, donned in purple shirts, are expected to gather at Newport’s Riverfront Row festival area for the 14th annual Cross the Bridge for Life June 2. Festivities begin at 1 p.m. and will include music by the popular Easter Rising band, free face painting, balloon artists, jugglers and more! In addition to water and fruit, there will be snacks available for purchase from food trucks. The main event — crossing the Purple People Bridge to celebrate the gift of human life regardless of age or stage, ability or disability — begins after a brief program at 2 p.m., led by Bishop Roger Foys and Father Anthony Brausch, rector, Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West. All are welcome to join this family-friendly event to fill the bridge over the Ohio River with the joy of life.
This year the keynote speaker will be Carson Rayhill, a representative from Students for Life. Originally from Loogootee, Indiana, Mr. Rayhill is a sophomore studying Finance and German at Xavier University with minors in Peace and Social Justice and Political Economy. He is currently the treasurer for Xavier Students For Life and is the State Squad Captain for Students for Life Action, Students for Life of America’s political action wing. Mr. Rayhill has been involved in the pro-life movement since 2015 when he first started a Student’s for Life group at his local high school. Since then, he has worked as a canvasser for Susan B. Anthony List and, last March, was selected to go with Students For Life of America to Australia for a week of campus outreach in Sydney over spring break. This summer he hopes to complete an internship with Youth For Life Germany and continue his studies at Xavier through the coming years.
Faye Roch, director, diocesan Pro-Life Office, said that while the event has a strong Catholic identity, Cross the Bridge for Life is an ecumenical event.
“That is very important to an event like this. There are local pregnancy centers and other Christian entities that come together to support this effort,” said Mrs. Roch.
“Finally, after all these years, I think people are realizing that this is an ecumenical event, and we — the communities of Northern Kentucky, Cincinnati and Indiana — can come together to celebrate life. Hopefully our outreach is bringing the other churches in.”
Mrs. Roch said that the event is not political or controversial; it is not a protest or demonstration, but simply a celebration of the gift of life.
“Especially with the climate surrounding life issues in the U.S., it is important to bring people together to celebrate the sanctity of life,” Mrs. Roch said. “We have this great gift that we have been given and it’s wonderful celebrating that idea as a community. This event is something that is very positive and uplifting.”
Bagpipers from the Ancient Order of Hibernians, followed by the Knights of Columbus, will again lead walkers across the bridge. The event will end back at Riverfront Row with more rousing music by Easter Rising and still-open food trucks. Mrs. Roch said that the walk is less than two miles, but individuals who are physically unable to complete the walk should not let that deter them from coming to the event; the music will continue to play and there will be lots to do.
A coalition of more than 20 area pro-life organizations presents Cross the Bridge for Life, and several will have informational booths at the event. For more information on this life-affirming event and complete coalition and sponsor lists, see CrossTheBridgeForLife.com or follow the event on Facebook.