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I spoke the other day with the remarkable Kevin Mincio, who lived a comfortable, jet-setter life as a Wall Street banker until he witnessed the 9/11 attacks on New York City.

He gave up his job as a vice president at Goldman Sachs and enlisted in the Army. As an infantryman in Iraq, he became tight friends with Santa Rosa-reared Staff Sgt. Jesse Williams.

Williams death in action in April of 2007 was a terrible blow to Mincio, who later became trustee of an education fund — fed by generous donations from Sonoma County people — for Williams’ daughter, Amaya.

Now Mincio is preparing for a grueling new challenge. On his friend Williams’ birthday, June 9, Mincio will mount a bicycle at Williams’ grave at Santa Rosa Memorial Park and head for NYC, planning to arrive at Ground Zero on the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Mincio and a friend will ride to honor Williams and all the victims of 9/11, and they’ll raise money to help with the education and other needs of loved ones of fallen GIs.

The public’s invited to a send-off dinner from 5 to 8 p.m. Wed., June 8, at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building. More details are available at teamjesse.org.

Mincio, who’s completed his military obligation and now is living in Washington State, said he and friend Matt Sauri know their ride will quickly get tough as they take on the Sierra Nevada.

“The first 25 days are going to be the real challenge,” he said. He seemed to be thinking about his friend Williams’ sacrifice when he added, “There are a lot harder things than having to ride your bike.”

Mincio said Williams was much different than he, virtually always upbeat and free-spirited. One reason he’s so grateful to his fallen friend: “Jesse has always reminded me to live for today.”

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