In 1995, Bradley took a first step outside her comfort zone—and a little ways south—when she moved to Chicago to study dentistry at Loyola University. But no sooner had her freshman year concluded that an announcement came of the dental school closing, forcing Bradley to head even further south.

“Everyone needed to find a new dental school and about seven of us from my freshman class went to Louisville,” she remembers. Without much time to mull the consequences, she transferred to the University of Louisville. While enrolled there she met David Bradley, a small town native of Goshen, Kentucky. The two dated through school, graduated together, and in 1995 found jobs at different dental practices in Louisville. “We were working in Louisville but knew we weren’t going to stay there,” recalls Bradley.

“David’s parents began visiting this place called Reynolds Lake Oconee. Then David had an acquaintance in Louisville visit there and urged us to check the place out.” They finally visited Lake Oconee with his parents who were looking for a retirement home.

“But once we got there and saw it, we thought, ‘this is nice, we could live here as well,’ ” says Bradley, who was reminded of her childhood days on Lake Michigan. “We figured it could be nice to be close to family because it was clear David’s parents were eventually going to buy.”

Though Patti and David always knew they wanted to start a practice together, the question had always been where. A visit to Lake Oconee helped fill in the blanks for them. “We felt the area had great potential for growth, so we figured, ‘why not here?’” says Bradley. The couple spent several months researching other practices, working with Dental Supply of Atlanta, and meeting with banks on financing. The stretch of road between Louisville and Atlanta became pretty routine. Next thing Bradley knew, she and David were married in 1997 and the former Midwesterner was moving again—and again, further south—to Greensboro, Georgia.

In 1998, they opened their first practice together, living in a small apartment over their office, less than 10 miles from the entrance to Reynolds. They worked in Atlanta during the year the office was being built, driving back and forth to the lake to check progress. Reynolds was a very different place from what it is today: There was no Ritz-Carlton, only two golf courses, and the nearest shopping centers were more than an hour’s drive west on Interstate 20. Today, the community has grown and more and more young families are taking up residence there including the Bradleys, who purchased in Reynolds in 2010.

Two years ago, the Bradley’s moved their practice on property as well, purchasing a 6,500-square-footbuilding in Lake Oconee Village. They are now part of the local infrastructure which includes numerous shopping centers, a critical access hospital, and an Award-winning charter school (now attended by the youngest Bradleys, Sophia and Spencer). And while they’ve both come a long way, both have found the happy life they knew growing up and want to give to their children.

“Having grown up in small towns, David and I feel a true sense of community,” Bradley says. “We chose to start our business, start a family, and establish our friendships here at Lake Oconee. We have a loyalty now to the area due to the connections we’ve made."

And now, adding team members at our practice, we feel we’re helping people grow and in turn make their own positive impact in our industry and in our community. We think of it as a ripple effect.”

Bradley still gets back to Oostburg every now and again to visit her four brothers and mom in the Sheboygan area. But the Midwesterner has no regrets about her southbound journey. “It’s been a lot of hard work and a whole lot of packing and unpacking boxes,” she laughs. “But it is all worth it in the end

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