March 8, 2012
Jeremy Staat, alumnus and veteran, will be embarking on a "Wall to Wall" bicycle ride across the country to raise awareness and support for veteran services and causes throughout the nation. Jeremy will be at the football victory bell outside of Sun Devil Stadium around 1:45 p.m. Thursday. Fans and the community are encouraged to come support Jeremy and his cause.
The tour will begin at the Wall of Valor in Bakersfield, Calif., Feb. 19, and stretch 4,623 miles over the course of 100 days to the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C.
Friend and veteran Wesley Barrientos will accompany Staat on the Wall to Wall tour. Born in Guatemala, Barrientos enlisted in the U.S. Army upon turning 18 years old. It was during his third tour of Iraq in 2007 that his military convoy was struck by an explosive device, resulting in the amputation of both his legs.
Staat, a native of Bakersfield, Calif., attended Arizona State University in the spring 1996. He soon became a member of the Sun Devil football team, where he met friend and teammate Pat Tillman.
Of his relationship with ASU alum and fallen soldier Pat Tillman, Staat recalls, "It was a relationship of brothers. We didn't need to hang out or talk every day. We would just keep each other up to date on what was going on in each other's life."
After being drafted into the National Football League (NFL), Staat had stints with the Oakland Raiders and St. Louis Rams. It was while recovering from a knee injury that he learned of Tillman's passing.
"My mom called me and was beside herself. She kept saying, 'he's gone, Pat's gone,'" he said. "I lost it and when I got back to my apartment I just sat there and cried. His death put a lot of things in perspective for me though."
Having already acquired NFL retirement benefits that Tillman urged him to secure, Staat retired from football and enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was quickly sent to the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot in San Diego for 13 weeks of basic training.
"They do what they do, not for the money, but for the love of their country," Staat said. "I loved being part of a team that was making a difference, and being in the branch of the military that could be anywhere in the world in 24 hours in an emergency situation."
Upon successfully completing basic training with knowledge of the weapons systems, Staat was eventually deployed to Iraq. Aside from his service in combat, Staat also managed to donate basic supplies and toys to the children of Iraq with the help of his friends at local churches in the United States.
In 2007 when Staat returned from abroad he decided to finish education via ASU online. In 2009, he proudly received a bachelor's degree in liberal arts and sciences.
"No one can ever take away your education," Statt said. "Getting my degree was one of my biggest accomplishments, especially since I was battling dyslexia."
The Wall to Wall ride is part of the Jeremy Staat Foundation. Through the foundation, Staat works as a motivational speaker in classrooms throughout the nation, recalling the life experiences of himself and others on the Veteran Speaking Board. The cause runs strictly off donations from the community to help keep much-needed funds in the classroom.