Author Archives: Heather

Team Jesse Sponsors Expedition for Children and Siblings of the Fallen

From August 10th to 16th, Team Jesse sponsored a Teen Expedition in the Delaware Water Gap Region.  Hosted by Travis Manion Foundation and Outward Bound, this Expedition was attended by ten children and siblings, ages 14-18, of fallen military service members.  The outdoor experience included camping, canoeing, physical challenges and a service component to provide the opportunity to serve in honor of the fallen.

TMFTeen4150The one-week course was a unique adventure specifically designed for teens coping with the death of a loved one.  Teens paddled along the Delaware River through the rugged and historic Delaware Water Gap and had an opportunity to step out of their comfort zone on a High Ropes Course.  By combining personal growth methodologies of Outward Bound, with a simple support model that honors the griever, we helped deliver an intensely profound healing experience relevant to the lives of people who are coping with the death of a loved one.

TMFTeen3150Throughout the course there were evening discussions to review personal and group challenges encountered during the day and in life.  Topics include grieving, leadership, independent decision-making, responsibility and teamwork.

Visit here for a complete gallery of photos that highlight the event.

Register Now for the 9/11 Heroes Run – Norwalk, CT

522b3c6a5115c.preview-300Join us to Run, Volunteer, Donate and Cheer but most of all Honor!

Saturday, September 19 at 8:15 AM for the 9/11 Heroes Run in Norwalk, CT.

The 9/11 Heroes Run 5K + 1M fun run welcomes runners and walkers of all levels and of all ages. Learn More and Register.

Events take place all over the world, on or near September 11th, and are 100% organized by local community volunteers. It is the perfect opportunity for your community to personally come out and thank your local veterans, their families, and first responders in an annual, fun and family friendly environment!

Register Now for the 9/11 Heroes Run – Seattle, WA

RunSeattle150Join us to Run, Volunteer, Donate and Cheer but most of all Honor!

Sunday, September 13 at 1:00 PM for the 9/11 Heroes Run in Seattle, WA.

The 9/11 Heroes Run 5K + 1.5M fun run welcomes runners and walkers of all levels and of all ages. Learn More and Register.

Events take place all over the world, on or near September 11th, and are 100% organized by local community volunteers. It is the perfect opportunity for your community to personally come out and thank your local veterans, their families, and first responders in an annual, fun and family friendly environment!

Cycling Trip Promotes Foundation Honoring Santa Rosa Soldier Jesse Williams

150R2RatSRMDerek Moore, The Press Democrat, June 9, 2015

Having completed a four-day, 275-mile journey from Reno to Santa Rosa on a bicycle, a sweat-soaked Kevin Mincio stood over a gravesite that was graced Tuesday with tiny American flags and a ball cap with the words “USA” written on it.

His cellphone rang. Jesse Williams’ daughter, who was just shy of her first birthday when her dad was killed in 2007 during U.S. Army combat operations in Iraq, was calling to check in.

“Do you know how old your dad is today?” Mincio said of Williams, who would have turned 34 on Tuesday.

Mincio promised Williams that should he not return home, Mincio would look after Amaya, who is now 9. The bike ride to raise money for the Team Jesse Foundation, which Mincio helped start and now runs, represented another example of him keeping that vow.

Mincio and three other riders endured steep climbs, breathtaking downhills, traffic, temperatures above 100 degrees and on Tuesday, a stiff headwind, to complete the journey.

At the finish, at Santa Rosa Memorial Park Cemetery and Crematory, the weary riders were greeted by family members of three of the four servicemen for whom the ride was dedicated. They included Herb Williams, Jesse Williams’ dad, who briefly was overwhelmed with grief.

“For the people who say it gets better, they don’t know what the hell they are talking about,” said the well-known Santa Rosa political consultant. “It doesn’t get better.”

Jim Connolly, whose son, Ryan, also is buried at the cemetery, remarked on the selflessness of the cyclists.

“They keep the memories of the soldiers alive,” he said.

His son, a Piner High graduate, enlisted in the Army in 2005 and served with the 173rd Airborne Brigade. He had just been promoted to sergeant when he was killed by a roadside bomb in late June 2008 in the Nangarhar Province, near Afghanistan’s border with Pakistan.

Williams, a staff sergeant in the 2nd Infantry Division, was killed a year earlier, on April 8, 2007, during combat operations in Baqubah, Iraq.

Williams and Mincio, who met during basic training, formed a fast bond while fighting together in Iraq. The pair survived their first tour of duty to return home. Williams was killed after going back to Iraq.

Mincio, a former Wall Street banker who was inspired to join the Army after he witnessed the 9/11 attacks, helped start the Team Jesse Foundation to honor his late friend and keep the promise he made to take care of his daughter.

The $250,000 the foundation has raised to date goes directly to families of fallen soldiers, to nonprofit groups suggested by families and to camps offering outdoor experiences and support services for children of military personnel killed in action.

The Reno-to-Santa Rosa ride raised nearly $13,000. Herb Williams pitched in another $1,000 Tuesday.

He called the ongoing commitment of Mincio and others involved in keeping his son’s memory alive “amazing.”

The four-day journey was a relative breeze for Mincio compared with his epic 4,400-mile cycling trip from Santa Rosa to New York City in 2011 to honor Williams and raise awareness of the new foundation. The cross-country ride ended at ground zero, where Mincio reflected on watching the World Trade Center towers crumble in 2001.

Still, this year’s West Coast trek had its challenges. Mincio, who lives in Washington state, said he had no time to train for the ride. He chronicled a harrowing tire blowout while he was cruising at 40 mph.

In those moments, he calls upon the memory of his fallen friend to help him pull through. “Jesse made me a better person,” he said. “He’s kept me on course.”

You can reach Staff Writer Derek Moore at 521-5336 or derek.moore@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @deadlinederek.

 

 

Ride to Remember Day 4: Army PFC Caesar Viglienzone

150PFCCaesarVArmy PFC Caesar S Viglienzone from Santa Rosa, California died February 1, 2006 south of Baghdad, Iraq of wounds sustained when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device. PFC Viglienzone was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

PFC Viglienzone was born in Honolulu, Hawaii into a Navy family and moved to Santa Rosa with his parents in 1993. He graduated from high school in 2003. As an only child, his friends were very important to him and he enjoyed spending time with them especially making music together. He enjoyed abalone diving trips with his father, uncles, cousins, and family. Memories and joys of Caesar sustain all who knew and loved him and whom he loved. He is survived by this parents, Norma & Dennis, and many aunts, uncles, and cousins.

We will never forget.

Your generous donations make a difference in the lives of military families.

Ride to Remember Day 3: Army Sergeant Ryan Connolly

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERASgt. Ryan Connolly, was killed June 24th, 2008, while on a road clearing mission in the Khogyani district in eastern Afghanistan. Sgt. Connolly, a combat medic whom everyone called “Doc”, served with the 173rd Airborne Brigade, “Sky Soldiers”. The Khogyani army base was renamed in his honor to FOB Connolly.

Ryan had just two weeks left on his long deployment to Afghanistan, with orders to report to the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey in August. Ryan was raised in Santa Rosa, was an athlete, an adventurous boy who threw himself at every endeavor, skiing, sailing, go karts, motorcycles, and classic cars. He is survived by his wife, a daughter now 7, and father, mother, brother, sister and many uncles, aunts and cousins.

We will never forget.

Your generous donations make a difference in the lives of military families.

Ride to Remember Day 2: Army Sergeant David Drakulich

150DavidDrakulichArmy Sgt. David Joseph Drakulich graduated from Hug High School in 2003 and attended Truckee Meadows Community College for two semesters before enlisting. Drakulich was an avid artist and in his honor an art scholarship has been made in his name. Drakulich planned on returning to college when he returned from Afghanistan. Before passing, Drakulich helped save his unit by calling in an air strike. He was on his 3rd tour in Afghanistan, a “high speed soldier” combat parachutist and expert marksman. “He loved his country, and joined in order to serve.”

Sergeant Drakulich made the ultimate sacrifice on January 9, 2008 at age 22.

We will never forget.

Your generous donations make a difference in the lives of military families.

Ride to Remember Day 1: Army Staff Sergeant Sean Gaul

150GaulFamilyArmy Staff Sgt. Sean Gaul grew up in Nevada and attended Reed High School. He was on his fifth tour of Iraq and Afghanistan after enlisting in the Army in 1999. He was with the 3rd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division. Gaul graduated from Ranger School in December 2006 and was very proud to be an Army Ranger. “Sean loved his job, knowing the risks he re-enlisted during his fifth deployment,” his wife, Jessica, said in a statement. “It seemed Sean was a lifer for sure. He did not waiver from his responsibility. He always trained hard and he led the way by example.” Gaul loved martial arts and many outdoor activities, including fishing, scuba diving and training for triathlons.

Staff Sergeant Gaul made the ultimate sacrifice on January 9, 2008 at age 29.

We will never forget.

Your generous donations make a difference in the lives of military families.

Ride to Remember Honors Local Fallen Soldiers

From June 6 to June 9, bicyclists from the Team Jesse Foundation will embark on a four-day, 275-mile trek from Reno, NV to Santa Rosa, CA, all to honor and remember four Nevada and California men who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

The fundraising goal is $10,000 and 100 percent of all donations received will go toward support for the families of the fallen. Donor contributions will be donated to a veterans support charity chosen by each of the four families and used to establish the SSG Jesse L. Williams Memorial Scholarship to be awarded by the Team Jesse Foundation in the 2015-2016 school year.

The four riders are funding all costs associated with the ride itself.

Each of the four days of the ride is dedicated to one soldier.  Direct connections with all four families have been made and it is anticipated that riders will meet at least one family member from each of the four soldier’s families.

Day 1:  Army SSG Sean Gaul, Reno, Nev.  KIA 1/9/2008, Iraq, age 29.

Day 2:  Army SGT David Drakulich, Reno, Nev. KIA 1/9/2008, Afghanistan, age 22.

Day 3:  Army SGT Ryan Connolly, Santa Rosa, Calif. KIA 6/24/2008, Afghanistan, age 24.

Day 4:  Army PFC Caesar Viglienzone, Santa Rosa, Calif., KIA 2/1/2006, Iraq, age 21.

The Team Jesse Foundation plans to award a $5,000 scholarship to a Santa Rosa student who demonstrates the importance of preserving the legacy of our nation’s heroes, the fallen, in their local community.

Interested individuals and businesses can support Ride to Remember with a donation to The Team Jesse Foundation at Ride to Remember fundraising site or www.teamjesse.org/donate.

Islanders Never Forget

Learn more and contribute to the Mercer Island Lacrosse Teams’ efforts to raise money in honor of SPC Dennis Williams.

Donations will go directly to the Dennis Williams Benevolent Fund, which was established for SPC Williams’ two children, Grant and Alaina, who were 2-months and 18-months old at the time of their father’s death in 2009.