Memory of local hero supports WNY veterans

CLARENCE CENTER, N.Y. (WIVB)- Friends and family of U.S. Army Airborne veteran Jonathan Cote say he was a goofball; one you always wanted around.

He put others before himself, and loved to smile.

Cote served in Afghanistan and Iraq, before returning to Iraq in 2006 to work as a private security contractor.

On November 16, 2006 he was taken hostage along with four others.

“523 days of his absence,” Cote’s father, Francis, told News 4.

It was the longest 523 days of his family’s lives.

In April of 2008 they got the news they were dreading: Jonathan’s body had been found.

Cote’s capture and his death are chronicled in a book, called Big Boy Rules.

The Cotes, who now live in Clarence Center, remember Jonathan through pictures and stories.

But every year, they remember him in a special way, through the Jonathan Cote Memorial Motorcycle Ride.

His older brother Christopher said riding was one of Jonathan’s favorite things.

“He loved it because it gave him a sense of freedom. And he loved the speed, he loved the thrill. And I thought what better way than to get people who love riding motorcycles together, ride together and remember him,” Christopher told News 4.

This is the 8th Annual Jonathan Cote Memorial Motorcycle Ride, which generally attracts around 250 people.

Christopher rides Jonathan’s bike.

“It gives me a sense that he’s there. Because I remember him riding that bike and it just reminds me so much of him.”

The ride isn’t just to honor a brother and a son; it’s to help support a cause that hits the Cote’s close to home.

Since the ride began, they’ve raised almost $23,000 for Western New York Heroes, an organization Jonathan’s father told News 4 his son would have benefited from.

“He had PTSD and during that time I don’t think it was identified,” he said.

Helping other veterans, would have been important to Jonathan, Francis told News 4.

The event also raises scholarship money for Williamsville North, Cote’s alma mater.

His family said every year, this is their chance to support local veterans, while also keeping their son’s spirit alive.

Event Details:

  • When: Sunday, Aug. 7 at 10:30 a.m.
  • Where: Williamsville North High School at the horseshoe entrance on Dodge Road
  • Cost: $20 per rider and $10 per passenger. Proceeds go to WNY Heroes and Williamsville North
  • There will be food, drinks, prize basket raffles, 50/50 raffles, and silent auctions.

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