Be careful where you step on your way to the gym. You might just step on someone’s heart.
Scattered about the entrance to the Wellness Center are testaments of people that met and fell in love at UM, engraved and forever wedged into the love bricks that make up one of the school’s most romantic pieces of architecture-the Love Bridge.
Dedicated in November of last year, the Love Bridge recognizes the love of Patti and Allan Herbert, 1957 and 1955 alums, whose gift to the Wellness Center established an endowment for the ‘Canes’ Health Assessment and Motivation Program (CHAMP).
A MATCH MADE IN UM
The Herberts met during their first week at UM. At the time, Allan was the editor of the Ibis yearbook, and Patti was a staff writer at The Hurricane. He was walking around the second floor of the UC, then known as the Student Club, when the two met.
“I walked into the office and there she was sitting behind a typewriter, in the fall semester of 1954,” Allan said.
“When he came in, he came in with a friend [who also worked at the Hurricane],” Patti said. “He was talking to him. I didn’t know they were talking about me, though.”
But it was on the other side of the coast that the two became interested in one another. Both of their families went on separate trips to California in 1956, and visited Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, when they ran into each other.
They had their first date at Disneyland, and even got to ride in a stagecoach with Walt Disney and his wife-first class, fairy tale-style. They were married in May of 1958.
“We’ve been going on a merry-go-round ever since,” Patti said.
Since then, the Herberts have been active alumni, visiting the Wellness Center three times a week, chairing class reunions, sponsoring student scholarships and, with the help of the Love Bridge, passing the romantic spirit on to other ‘Canes.
Reminiscent of a heart carved into a tree trunk, messages on bricks include “Hap Loves Sandy,” “Together Forever Fred and Celia Piccini,” and “Allan loves Patti.” One brick even has a marriage proposal engraved in it, the words hanging in the air and piquing the curiosity of anyone who happens to notice.
A PROPOSAL SET IN STONE
“I wanted to do something more than take her to the beach,” said Erik Sheppard, 2003 graduate, who proposed to Monica Cabanillas, 2002 grad, at the Love Bridge. The two had met through mutual friends in 2000, though they didn’t start dating until a couple years later.
The couple had their first date at the UM vs. UF game and dated for two years before Sheppard popped the question.
“My brother is a junior at UM and he had told me how you could buy love bricks,” he said. “I put it in the back of my mind until I realized that I wanted to propose.”
On Christmas Eve, when they were supposed to be heading west to visit Cabanillas’ parents, Sheppard drove towards the school. He told Cabanillas that her gift was at his brother’s apartment, which was across the street from campus. But as they approached UM, he turned into campus instead.
“He laughed somewhat nervously and said, ‘Surprise, we’re going somewhere else,'” Cabanillas said.
Once at the Wellness Center, Sheppard led her to the bridge, where got down on one knee and showed Cabanillas their love brick.
“Monica, we met here,” it said. “Will you make it forever? Love, Erik.”
“I immediately starting sobbing and had to read it again. Erik looked at me with watery eyes and asked me to marry him.”
They plan to marry in November.
Natalia Maldonado can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.