Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Nantahala Bridge Dedication Honors NOC Staff Member's Heroism

Earlier this summer, members of the Nantahala River community gathered to honor NOC's Vice President of Operations, Rob Kelly, for his heroic rescue on the Upper Nantahala last September. In a ceremony held at the Mystic River development, representatives from the Mystic Lands community dedicated their bridge over the Nantahala to commemorate Rob's selfless act and his quick action.

On behalf of the Mystic Lands homeowners Ami Shinitzky made the following remarks:

"Heroes in literature and mythology have always had roles that go farther and deeper than surface plots would suggest. Acts of heroism are acts of transcendence. These are moments in which we exceed our normal or habitual capacity, reaching heights that set new standards for ourselves, and even for all mankind.

Though mostly isolated acts, these heroic acts are important nonetheless, for they reassure us of our hidden reservoirs of strength, even if we do not often tap into them. When we cheer for heroes, we cheer for ourselves, for heroes are the harbingers of the greatness within mankind that is in our collective future to come.

Heroic acts may be as private as holding the hand of a dying friend, or as spectacular as jumping into the rushing whitewater river to rescue a drowning fellow human being. With hardly a thought that both might perish, on that last Saturday of September 2012, that moment of singular supreme courage is what Rob Kelly displayed to the wonderment and admiration of us all.

While we gratefully acknowledge the contributions of others to this memorable rescue, it is your singular yet modest display of heroism, Rob, that hereby shall be memorialized so as to inspire the countless, nay millions, who will raft or kayak down our beloved Nantahala under this Mystic River bridge. A bridge that from this time on shall be known as the Rob Kelly Bridge, underscoring an act of human triumph that you selflessly and heroically displayed: COURAGE!

And who better to dedicate the Rob Kelly Bridge than Sue Martin, for whom what was going to be but another adventurous run down the Upper Nantahala, transformed from a near certain death, to a life where joys, small and large, and not the least the joys of motherhood of her two children, are hers to savor again.

It is our honor to know and celebrate you, Rob."

The ceremony took place on June 30 led by Sue Martin, the rescued paddler. The bridge is located between Patton's Run and Ferebee Park. Look for it next time you paddle the Nantahala, and use it as a reminder to be alert and aware of the other paddlers on the river.


  1. I always enjoy reading the news letter from NOC. This one I will never forget! Take a moment and read the heroic rescue article from the link above. But only if you are not afraid to shed a tear or a river! Great Job Rob and very happy Sue is doing good. VERY NICE the community honored this event in the way they did. I will look for the bridge the next time I come to play in the great out doors you call home! TC SAV GA

  2. A never-ending thanks to Rob, my hero. :)