The Team Jesse Foundation
Mission: To provide education and support for families of fallen soldiers in honor of SSG Jesse Williams


Mission: To provide education and support to families of fallen soldiers in honor of SSG Jesse Williams

Spirit of St. Louis- Media Unit

“But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine.” Thomas Jefferson St. Louis was the first three-day rest stop on the ride.  It turned out to be quite a humbling time of the journey so far.  Despite humidity levels rising each day, one could not deter the support and acts of kindness from strangers.  The first thing you notice in St. Louis is the famous Gateway Arch.  The deceptively massive commemoration was constructed in honor of those early pioneers, like Lewis and Clark who made Thomas Jefferson’s dream of an America from Atlantic to Pacific possible.  It is those Western explorers the Gateway Arch is dedicated to.  It a symbolic national transit point where the nation is divided by the mighty Mississippi River, which is flowing quite strongly right now.  Even the great heat wave sweeping the Midwest could not stop it.  The Arch is an important metaphor for the team now, as we cross into the east.

Much appreciation goes out to Dave Squires and Dan Reilly of D&D Marketing. Their courageous support brought the story of Team Jesse and the riders’ story to more people than we could count.  The fundraiser at Helen Fitzgerald's Pub was a resounding success.  The heart of the city was on its sleeve, as countess curious and sympathetic patrons attended. It was another opportunity for the team to spread awareness with conversation and a little bit of St. Louis finest cuisine. Originally a World Fair entry, ‘Toasted Ravioli’ is newly discovered guilty pleasure and a perfect bar food.  A twist on the pasta dish, the ravioli is stuffed with flavored ground meat, toasted then seasoned for serving.  It was a dangerous, yet delicious finger snack.

On our ride out of St. Louis was a turning point for many on the team.  The riders learned of a resting place for a fallen solider named Lance Corporal Matthew Pathenos USMC, from a close loved one at the fundraiser.  After a  three-police department coordinated escort through the city Kevin and Matt arrived at St. Marcus Cemetery.  In another somber, but honorable moment the two paid their respects in honor of Matthew, remembering the mission at hand.  With heavy hearts the team crossed the bridge into the seventh state of the ride- Illinois, known as the Prairie state or the Land of Lincoln.  The ride indeed is taking a new shape.  Up until this point, the media team was embedded with Kevin, Matt and the SAG for forty six days.

However, the media team is taking an R & R, but in our terms it means rearm and reassess.  As we begin our departure from the team it knots a twinge in every one of our hearts.  We reflected on the memories of the last month and half, roads traveled, sights seen and camaraderie formed.  The journey is taking us on a new path; however our mission is still the same.  We accept an opportunity even though it feels like a tough one to stomach.  Andrew flew back to New York for a friend’s wedding and will serve as a forward scout for our New York City finish.  Austin and I will head back to Seattle for more production work; leaving the team at Marion, Illinois.  The Minnow will part as well and remain close on the road, but ready to roll.  In Washington D.C., we will rendezvous again with the riders, new SAG operators, ready to turn north and finish the journey.

Kevin and I originally met several years ago.  My alma mater is Mercer Island High School where I played lacrosse and where he currently coaches.  Even though I was not under Kevin’s coaching and mentoring talents, the game inevitably brought us together.  It is also how I know Matt as well.  We have become good friends and trusted teammates.  While we separate for a few weeks, on the road it feels like a few years.  Camaraderie breeds everywhere there is a challenge where a team transcends it.  Much of what we learned in just forty-six days we will remember for a lifetime.

Lacrosse brought us together.  It will bring us back.  I will be signing off and with the ‘Spirit of St. Louis’ we cross a new arch in the story.  We wish safe travels and a cool air conditioned thoughts to Kevin, Matt, Papa and Momma Bear- Ron and Karen.  Until the roads meet...

The Journey is the Reward and To the Limit,

Brett Bowker