Crossing Paths

By Debbie Lagestee     •     Photos by Valerie & Ed Photography

In the course of life, crossing paths with people at the right time can change the direction of one’s future. Bradley learned this on multiple occasions in 2017. He volunteered as a mentor with Big Brother & Big Sister of the Lowcountry. He passionately invested his time and talents in his Little Brother. They went fishing together, worked on homework, and the boy stayed at his home on weekends and for weeks at a time during the summer months. Bradley attended school functions for his Little Brother and was the point of contact for school-related issues. The boy’s 3rd-grade teacher, Rachel, contacted Bradley several times and built a rapport throughout the school year. As a recently divorced single dad, a relationship was the furthest thing from Bradley’s mind. Yet, that following summer, he and Rachel began dating. Bradley remained the boy’s Big Brother for 5 years until the boy and his family moved out of state. Bradley cherishes the time they spent together and hopes it made an impactful, lasting impression on his Little Brother.

The summer of dating changed the direction of their future. Bradley and Rachel got married on December 1, 2018. They had planned a small outdoor ceremony surrounded by their immediate families. Unfortunately, they woke up to a downpour of rain on their wedding day with no clearing in sight. The reception was to be held at Edmunds Oast Restaurant in Charleston. Luckily, the Executive Chef and part-owner was Bradley’s friend. He quickly offered to host the ceremony at the restaurant under a covered pavilion. It was a snap decision with little time to redirect their plans and guests. Bradley took a few deep breaths and handled the situation swiftly. Rachel laughs about their personality traits, “He gets panicked if there is no plan, and I get panicked if there is a plan.” Rachel remained calm under pressure.

She recalls, “One way or another, I knew we were getting married that day, and it ended perfectly.” Bradley added, “It actually turned out to be a prettier location than the original one we chose.”

Rachel grew up in St. Simons Island, GA. She attended Georgia State University and earned her degree in Early Childhood Education. In 2011 she moved to Charleston to attend the College of Charleston, where she acquired a Master’s degree in Education. She has worked in several aspects of education, including Director of Teacher Leader program, Assistant to the Dean, and 3rd-grade teacher for six years. She currently works for CCSD as a SAIL teacher. SAIL is part of the gifted and talented program and stands for Students Actively Involved in Learning. Rachel loves her work and serves 3 schools in North Charleston and 1 school in downtown Charleston.

Bradley was born and raised in West Ashley. Bradley’s dad, Marty, had been in the insurance industry working for a large corporation throughout Bradley’s childhood. After high school graduation, Bradley and Marty opened A&A Insurance in 2000. They specialize in home and auto but offer most types of insurance. It’s not lost on Bradley how special it is to work alongside his dad. “My Dad is my best friend. We get along super well. I’ve been with him every Monday through Friday since I was 20 years old”, said Bradley. They are proud to be a local family-owned insurance agency in West Ashley, a community they have been a part of for more than 40 years.

Bradley’s 16-year-old daughter Addison attended School of the Arts 6th– 9th grade and now is a rising junior at West Ashley High School. She has been involved in competitive dance since she was 5 years old. She has been dancing with the Just Dance studio for 11 years and travels throughout the US for competitions. Addison competes in group dances and as a soloist.

Her dance styles include jazz, hip-hop, ballet, and contemporary. She is dedicated to her craft and spends many hours per week practicing. She loves hanging out at the beach with her friends when she is not dancing. Addison has her sights set on attending the University of South Carolina to pursue a degree in sports medicine.

Their 2 dogs complete their family. Gomez is a 5-pound Maltipoo, and Stella being on the opposite end of the spectrum, is a 70-pound Bully-Lab mix. When they met, Gomez was Bradley’s dog, and Stella was Rachel’s dog. Like the couple, the dogs became best friends, are so sweet together, and now are inseparable.

When Rachel met Bradley, she lived with a couple of friends in downtown Charleston. She worked on the peninsula as well and rode her bike everywhere. Moving to West Ashley was a bit of an adjustment. Still, she was excited to start her life with Bradley and embraced the change wholeheartedly. Bradley and Rachel bought their home in the Jasmine Gate section of Bolton’s Landing in 2018. They were searching for a home with more space and a modern, updated floorplan. They found all of that and so much more. They absolutely love the neighborhood. Bradley says, “I have made an amazing group of friends.

Our street, Batten Drive, is honestly the best group of neighbors you could ever ask for.” Being a part of the Bolton’s Landing Golf Cart Militia, there is always someone to ride the trails with. They regularly hang out with friends by firepits, watch games together, and have holiday parties. They enjoyed participating in the 4th of July and Christmas golf cart parades. Their street is famous for the best fireworks display and all-around general fun!

Rachel served on the Jasmine Gate HOA board last year. Rachel loves the location as it is convenient for work and meeting friends in Charleston.

Friday nights Rachel and Bradley like to meet after work and go out to dinner. It’s a fun and relaxing way to kick off the weekend. They are early to bed and early to rise kind of people. They enjoy working in the yard and garden early in the morning, leaving the remainder of the day to take it easy. Rachel loves reading, watching cheesy reality tv, and playing with Stella. Bradley has many hobbies, including Weber grills, cars, fishing, golf carts, seeking great places to eat, and traveling.

When Addison was young, they went to Disney every summer for 10 years straight. They returned in July after Addison performed in the Orlando Nationals for dance. Rachel and Bradley have traveled to the Bahamas, Cuba, NYC, Miami, Asheville, and St. Simons Island to spend time at her family’s beach house. They also love to travel to random cities for music festivals and concerts.

Bradley and Rachel’s mutual vested interest in a young boy enabled them to cross paths. Whether they spend their time in the neighborhood or are off exploring other cities, they are grateful that their chance encounters allow them to spend forever together.

This article was featured in the August 2022 issue of Carolina Bay Neighbors magazine.


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