On January 25th, 2011, Green Bay’s sidewalks were covered with a fresh coat of snow, forcing wheelchair-bound John Kennedy to travel along the edge of the street on his way home from work.
John had been paralyzed from the chest down following an accident shortly after his high school graduation.
His mother, Colleen, says that while the snow on the sidewalk wouldn’t be a cause for concern for an able-bodied individual, for John, his inability to take the sidewalk that day was more than an inconvenience.
“He manuevered his wheelchair down the edge of the street and then was hit by a drunk driver,” Colleen told Local 5.
As that tragic hit and run approaches its eighth anniversary, John’s family and the Green Bay Public Works Department are working together to prevent similar tragedies.
“We’re looking to do this public service announcement and raise awareness of folks to clear their sidewalks,” Steve Grenier, Director of Public Works for the City of Green Bay said, “and we now have the bridges.”
The Main Street and Walnut Street Bridges, recently outfitted with new LED lights, will light up in memory of John, in colors chosen by his family.
“It was very hard actually,” Alyssa Kennedy, John’s sister said of the color chosing process. “We were kind of talking about it…and we thought his favorite colors would be a good idea.”
John’s favorite colors: pink and purple will light up the bridges first, before changing to yellow to represent the alert color for a hit and run suspect. The lights will then turn red and white to represent the Green Bay Area Crime Stoppers, who recieved the tip leading to an arrest in John’s death. Finally, the bridges will turn blue to honor the Green Bay Police Department for their work investigating the case.
John’s family say they wanted to take the opportunity to thank everyone that helped with John’s case.
“With everything that happened, everybody that helped with the situation, we felt that it was important to show that they supported us as well,” Alyssa said.
As snow falls over Titletown, Grenier hopes the lights also serve as a reminder of the importance of shoveling sidewalks.
“It’s very timely that we’ve got a storm coming in,” he said. “I can’t help but think that there’s something more going on here that everything’s lining up the way that it is.”
The bridges will light up Friday, January 25th in honor of John Kennedy.
Genier says he hopes to make the bridge lighting an annual event.