A seemingly unplanned meeting in Akron, Ohio in 1935 between two men, both of whom were termed "hopeless" alcoholics, began a program of recovery that has helped millions find sobriety and serenity.
Bill W. was one of those men. In fighting his own battle against drinking, he had already learned that helping other alcoholics was the key to maintaining his own sobriety, the principle that would later become step twelve in the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.
A stock broker from New York, Bill W. had traveled to Arkron, Ohio on May 12, 1935 for a shareholders' meeting and proxy fight, which did not turn out his way. Fighting desperately to maintain his sobriety, his immediate reaction was, "I've got to find another alcoholic."
A few inquiries lead him to a meeting with an Akron surgeon, forever to be remembered simply as "Dr. Bob," who had struggled for years with his own drinking problem.
The Founders Meet
The effect the meeting had on Dr. Bob was immediate, as he tells it in his own words and soon he too put down the bottle (June 10, 1935), never to pick it up again. The bond formed between the two men would grow into a movement that would literally affect the lives of millions.
Starting in an upstairs room at Dr. Bob's home at 855 Ardmore Avenue, in Akron, the two men began helping alcoholics one person at a time.
In took four years to get the first 100 alcoholics sober in the first three groups that formed in Akron, New York, and Cleveland. But after the publication in 1939 of the group's "text book" Alcoholics Anonymous, and the publication of a series of articles about the group in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the development of A.A. was rapid. Membership in the Cleveland group soon grew to 500.