WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) – Hundreds of bikers geared up and rode in honor of Jonathon Cote Sunday.
Cote joined the army after graduating high school and served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. Army veteran was taken hostage in 2006 while working as a security contractor in Iraq. His body was found 17 months later.
Jon’s brother Christopher recalled how it felt to lay him to rest, “It felt terrible, but at the same time we were able to lay him to rest. There was a possibility that we would never find him, but thankfully we were able to get him back and we were able to honorably lay him to rest.”
After he died, his family made it their mission to turn their tragedy into something positive. They created the Jonathon Cote Memorial Ride.
On Sunday more than 180 motorcyclists rode in solidarity for the 6th annual event.
“Jonathon ended up losing his life to support our country and we’re out here in support of his family and friends,” said Geoff Morrison of Buffalo.
“You feel it inside. Your heart just breaks for the family and at the same time there’s a sense of pride that somebody would go and fight for our freedom,” said Lori Stenzel of Lewiston.
Proceeds from the event benefits the Western New York Hero’s Organization and goes towards a scholarship in Cote’s memory at this alma mater, Williamsville North High School.
“We’re enabling somebody to get a better education with the money or enabling veterans to integrate well in society again after they’ve been in the armed forces,” said Francis Cote, Jonathon’s dad.
Even though Jonanthon is gone, events like the one on Sunday carry his memory on for generations to come.