In my life, I have been around the globe. I have done many a thing and have seen even more; nothing compares to my home of Eastern Kentucky. The Appalachian region has always struggled and we are trying to improve our situation with grassroots projects. One such project is The Rugged Red. I was encouraged by, Ken Rowland, former News Director of Channel 32, to write to Diane Sawyer, a native of Glasgow, Kentucky, and ask if she would be willing to help us build tourism to Eastern Kentucky.
She often tells fondly of the story of how she got her start. She kept begging the Ken Rowland to give her a chance at reporting; she was a weather girl at the time. Her big break came when Supreme Court Justice William Douglas came to the Red River Gorge to highlight the issue of a proposed dam on the Red River located at Jailhouse Rock. The dam proposal attracted a protest hike on November 18, 1967 to prevent the Red River Gorge from being transformed from a sanctuary of ruggedness, beauty, and serenity to a destructive wasteland.
In the book, Diane Sawyer by Gerda Gallop Goodman, it says that “…her first assignment was to interview the civil rights supporter and Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. However, the assignment proved more challenging than she expected. Diane had to trail behind Douglas while he undertook a five mile hike through the Red River Gorge in the eastern part of Kentucky. The terrain was rugged, yet Diane managed to carry her own camera and equipment and complete the interview.” Diane recounts in the book, “I had to stand ahead of the hikers, then stand and shoot until they passed by, then race ahead to be in front of them again. It was really a vigorous hike for me.”
At one point of her interview, Diane Sawyer, slipped on an embankment at which Douglas quipped, “This must be her first time.”
I was there that day. I finally sent the letter to Diane Sawyer just last week. My friends,Gerry Seavo James of Explore Kentucky and Jeb Smith of SkyDroneStudios, suggested creating this video to present to Diane Sawyer…. but now I need your help to share it far and wide so that hopefully Diane Sawyer will see it and come help us by presenting the trophy to the winner of the Rugged Red trail half marathon this September 6.
Side note: The dam was never built. The trail that Supreme Court Justice William Douglas hiked that day is now known among the locals as Douglas Trail. In 1993, Red River Gorge was declared a National Forest under the USDA and now we are pushing it to become a National Landmark to ensure its protection from even felling the trees.