July 19, 2010

"The Journey is the Reward" to the World Cup

As many of you know Brian loved soccer-playing it, watching it and being a part of the different teams he played on. Neil Buethe was one of those teammates that Brian became close too.

A couple weeks ago, Neil approached us, to our surprise, as the Senior Manager of Communications for the U.S. Soccer Federation.

He told us that he has never forgotten Brian and their friendship. He wrote : " his inspirational story has stayed with me for all these years. I actually still keep some of the material about the "Journey is the Reward" that was handed out during his funeral in my wallet as a symbolic way to keep Brian with me at all times."

He went on to say that Jay DeMerit, defender for the U.S. Soccer World Cup Team, had an amazing journey on how he got to where he is today. For Neil, it really speaks the phrase "The Journey is the Reward."

--Jay DeMerit at the World Cup. Photo by ISIphotos.com--

Jay began his soccer career at Bay Port High School in Green Bay, Wisconsin where he graduated from in 1998.

Jay didn't start playing soccer until his sophomore year in high school. He then played at the University of Illinois. After graduation, he decided to take advantage of his European Union work status (due to his Danish grandfather) and moved to England in 2003. He started off playing in the ninth tier of English football for Southall Town F.C.
In July 2004, DeMerit joined Northwood, a seventh-tier team, to play in some of their pre-season matches. He went on to sign a one year contract with Watford that season and has been a regular in the Watford lineup ever since. Jay played in all of the World Cup games for the United States.

Wow. Not starting soccer till he was 16 years old to a ninth-tier team to the World Cup... "The Journey is the Reward" is fitting.

Jay visited Green Bay and his alma mater, Bay Port High School on July 9th where he signed and talked with hundreds of fans. Jim Schmitt, the Mayor of Green Bay, presented Jay with a key to the city and delcared July 9th, 'Jay DeMerit Day'.

After a long day of signing hundreds of autographs, Jay was kind enough to meet with Brian's Dad, Doug LaViolette and signed a few soccer balls, just liked those used during the World Cup for the Brian's Foundation fundraiser efforts.
We can't tell you how much it meant to us that Neil reached out and for keeping Brian and his Foundation in his heart after all these years. We felt honored that Jay also showed his support and believes in the mission of Brian's Foundation.

We are so touched that Jay has joined in on Neil's journey, our Journey and Brian's journey.

July 13, 2010

The General George Patton Scholarship of Honor in Pilsen Czech Republic

Doug LaViolette recently had the privilege of attending the Liberation Celebration of the City of Pilsen in the Czech Republic. May 6th, 2010 marked the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Pilsen by General George Patton's 3rd Army.

Our good friend Bob Nueske, was relentless in making sure he experienced what he had a couple years ago. Both he and Doug had served in the United States Army back in the late 60's, and not far from this city.

The events of May 1-9 were truly life-changing in so many ways. We hope the following snapshots that Doug captured will help share his time there. What he witnessed was the love of America and the American Soldier- even 65 years after the liberation of their city.

To show their respect, thousands of Czech citizens lined the streets for miles to pay tribute to General Patton and the American Soldier.

The week was filled with large crowds to private reflective moments, including this American family's private time to honor and remember their American hero. This is the crash site of Lt. Virgil P. Kirkham, the last recorded American USAAF pilot killed in Europe during WWII. It was Lt. Kirkham's 82nd mission and one that he volunteered to go on.

At the time this 20 year old pilot's P-47 Thunderbolt plane was shot down, a young 14 year old Czech girl, Zdenky Sladkove, was so moved by his sacrifice she made a vow to care for him and his memory.

For 65 straight years , Zdenky, now 79 years old, took on the responsibility to care for Virgil's crash site and memorial near her home.

Another chapter in this important story.....the Czech people are teaching their children about America's sacrifice for their freedom.
American Soldiers, young and old, are the ''Rock Stars'' these children and their parents want autographs from..

After witnessing these magical moments Bob Nueske asked how could we not start a scholarship in Pilsen?

So we're proud to announce starting next year, The Brian LaViolette Foundation will established The Scholarship of Honor in tribute to General George S. Patton and the American Soldier, past and present.

Thanks to Bob Nueske, we have the start of the endowment fund to make this possible.