2016 Islanders Never Forget

The 3rd annual Team Jesse Foundation spin event was held at World Gym, in Coram, NY.  This year’s Islanders Never Forget hero was SSG. Louis Bonacasa from Coram, NY, who was killed by a suicide bomber on December 21, 2015.  A total of 19 spinners and 2 instructors participated, raising over $5000.  We are grateful to all who participated and donated as well as World Gym.  The highlight of the day was marked by the presence of Louis’s wife, Dee.  She expressed her gratefulness to Team Jesse for honoring her husband and we will keep in contact with her throughout the year.  A special thanks goes to Jim Nohe for his tireless efforts which exemplifies the Team Jesse motto – To the Limit!

Teen Expedition

Team Jesse is sponsoring the Teen Expedition and participating in the service project security.

The Travis Manion Foundation and Outward Bound are excited to host a Teen Expedition in the Delaware Water Gap region. This Expedition is for children and siblings of fallen military service members who are 15-18yrs of age. This outdoor Backpacking experience includes rock climbing, map and compass navigation, physical challenges, team leadership skill development, and a service component to benefit the local community and serve in honor of the fallen.

Download PDF here:
2016 Teen Exp overview

Veterans Service Organization Kicks Off Army-Navy Weekend

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Before the Army-Navy game this weekend, a nonprofit that aims to help veterans held a gala Thursday night at the Union League in Center City.

It was called the ‘If Not Me, Then Who?’ gala.

The event was hosted by the Travis Manion Foundation, a non-profit group named in honor of a fallen Iraq war solider.

Manion was a Doylestown native, and was known for his leadership.

Army veteran Hugo Lentze says the group works to empower veterans and young people.

“We focus on character, service and character in action,” he said.

Navy veteran Michael McNamara says the motto of the party came from Travis himself, when his brother-in-law was joking around with him about breaking his ankle so Travis wouldn’t have to be deployed overseas.

“Travis then got a bit serious and said, ‘Dave, if not me than who? Who will protect these people? No one is more qualified than I am.’ And that’s the way Travis lived his life. ”

But Manion did deploy, and was killed in 2007.

The foundation is now the largest Veteran Service Organization in the region.

Sachem Supports Our Troops

Sachem150Continuing its Veteran’s Day tradition, Sachem Central School District again sold Sachem Supports the Troops T-shirts.  Waverly Elementary, Seneca, Sagamore and Samoset Middle Schools donated their proceeds, along with a match from the Samoset Student Activities to the Team Jesse Foundation.  Waverly Elementary also included a candy drive, with Total Dental donating $1 for every pound of Halloween Candy collected.  The collected candy was sent to our troops overseas.

Alec Mislin150The camo T-shirt was designed by Nick Kreamer, a Samoset teacher, using his cousin Army Spc. Alec Mislin as his inspiration.  Team Jesse is overwhelmed for these schools’ donations, in excess of $5500, and thanks Sachem for its unwavering support.



Camps Erin and Mariposa Provide Hope and Healing to Children

CampMariposa2015150Through the generosity of our donors, Team Jesse contributed to over 200 camp sessions provided free to children suffering from the loss of a loved one in a military family to attend Camp Erin bereavement camp or to those dealing with addiction in their household to attend Camp Mariposa.  These kids participated in camps across the country including Seattle, WA, San Francisco, San Diego and Oakland, CA, Washington D.C., Sarasota, FL and South Bend, IN.  Targeted military outreach was conducted in partnership with local bereavement organizations in each of these markets.

Camp Erin, created by The Moyer Foundation, is the largest nationwide network of free bereavement camps for children and teens ages 6 to 17 who are grieving the loss of someone close to them.  It combines traditional and fun camp activities with specialized grief activities and peer support.

Camp Mariposa is a free, weekend overnight camp program that supports children between the ages 9-12 who are impacted by substance abuse in their families. Camp Mariposa gives these children the knowledge, tools, and coping skills to prevent them from developing an addiction of their own and to help break the intergenerational cycle of addiction.

Norwalk and Seattle Show Up for 9/11 Heroes Runs

HONOR.  Most of all.

Our nation’s heroes were honored at the 9/11 Heroes Runs in Cranbury and Luther Burbank Parks.  As a partnering organization, Team Jesse brought the race to Norwalk for the third time and Seattle for the fourth year, joining those in over 60 cities around the world.  Special thanks to the police, fire fighters and VFW post 5760 members who supported the event.


The 9/11 Heroes Run participants lived up to Travis Manion’s legacy of honoring the fallen by challenging the living.  Nearly 600 men, women, children and dogs of all ages finished the 5K and Fun Run courses through scenic Cranbury and Luther Burbank parks.  Special thanks to our service members as well as the lacrosse community members who blazed the trail.


The spirit of giving was alive in nearly 100 volunteers without whom this event would not have been possible.  Our mission to honor and support the families of those who gave their tomorrow for our today was top of mind at the early morning rally to get set up and ready for race day…and the energy was maintained throughout the day!  Volunteers welcomed runners at registration, guided them through the course and cheered them to the finish line.


Team Jesse and Travis Manion Foundation raised nearly $25,000 thanks to the generous support of the Norwalk and Seattle communities.  Special acknowledgement goes to our Seattle local race title sponsor, Wimmer Solutions.  They supported the event not only financially but by running, volunteering and cheering!

The 5K was for the 9K who have given their lives for the freedom that we enjoy in this great nation.  Never Forget.

Check out the Seattle 9/11 Heroes Run Photo Gallery

Check out the Norwalk 9/11 Heroes Run Photo Gallery

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.

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 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.