It All Started With Three Little Words

In the spring of 2012, Justin Skeesuck asked his best friend of nearly 40 years, Patrick Gray, to tackle the epic 500-mile pilgrimage across Northern Spain called the Camino de Santiago.

The challenge? Justin lives life in a wheelchair. When asked, Patrick's response was simple and direct, he said, “I’ll push you.”

Arrow Down
668km : The Benedictine Monastery of Samos

Meet Justin & Patrick

Born just over 36 hours apart, Justin & Patrick are life-long friends with a rich, deep relationship that spans beyond 40 years. They travel together, live life together through its ups and downs, and most importantly, will do anything for each other.

Over the past 20+ years, a progressive neuromuscular disease has slowly taken away Justin’s ability to use his arms and legs. From each morning until night, Justin requires daily assistance in every aspect of life such as eating, getting dressed, bathing and even using the restroom.

Though immensely challenging, Justin continues to live life to the fullest and maintains a positive attitude through it all!

In the spring of 2012, Justin learned about the Camino de Santiago while watching Rick Steves on Public Access TV. Soon after, Justin asked his lifelong friend, Patrick, what he thought about tackling the ancient pilgrimage. Patrick's response was simple and direct. He said, “I’ll push you.”

Left to Right: Patrick Gray & Justin Skeesuck. Photo by Timothy Bryant

Patrick Gray & Justin Skeesuck. Photo by Timothy Bryant.

Photo by Maria Feck (mariafeck.de). Der Spiegel, Germany

Photo by Maria Feck (mariafeck.de). Der Spiegel, Germany

Two years later, they started their journey and had absolutely no idea how they would make the 500 miles from France to the Cathedral in Santiago; over several mountain ranges like the Pyrenees, through rivers, and across the vast “desert of Spain" called the Meseta… they just knew they had to get there.

Justin and Patrick had to rely on the help and strength of friends, acquaintances and even complete strangers in order to navigate the many challenges they faced on their 34-day journey.

Since returning from Spain, they have used their heartfelt storytelling to share the comical details of their journey… the joys, the struggles, the beautiful relationships, and the lessons they learned in faith, hope, love and friendship.

Their goal with the film is for others to walk away recognizing each life is not defined by its limitations, but is defined by what is accomplished in spite of those limitations.

A husband and father of three children, Justin looks at every new chapter of life as a challenge to be conquered.

Patrick is also a husband and father of three children. Patrick and Justin founded Push Inc. where they help organizations and individuals realize they can achieve more, together.

 Patrick Gray & Justin Skeesuck, high school graduation, 1993

High School Graduation, 1993

12km : Conquering the Pyrenees

What is the Camino de Santiago?

The Camino de Santiago is an ancient pilgrimage dating back to the 9th century. Justin and Patrick took the well-traveled “French route” starting in St. Jean Pied de Port, France and traveled 500 miles due west towards the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

Camino de Santiago Map

Camino de Santiago: The French Route (800km)

The Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of St. James, was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during the Middle Ages. The pilgrimage finds its way to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in Northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the Saint are buried.

Today, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims set out each year from their front doorsteps or from popular starting points across Europe, to make their way to Santiago de Compostela. Most travel by foot, some by bicycle and even a few by horseback or donkey. In our case, we took a specialized off-road wheelchair!

In addition to those undertaking a religious pilgrimage, many hikers walk the route for personal reasons: travel, sport, or simply the challenge of weeks of walking in a foreign country.

Pilgrims who walk the Camino typically walk for weeks or months before arriving at the Cathedral of Santiago. They follow yellow arrows and signs that point them towards Santiago.

The pilgrim’s life is simple: walk, eat and sleep. Pilgrims stay in hostels or “albergues” specifically for pilgrims. Individuals may also stay in hotels, apartments, and even people’s homes. Additionally, pilgrims carry a special passport called a “credencial” which is stamped in each town to provide a record of the pilgrimage itself.

Once pilgrims arrive in Santiago, they receive a “compostela” which is a certificate of accomplishment given to those who walk at least 100 km of the Way.

Regardless of personal intent, many consider the experience a spiritual adventure. Removing one’s self from the hustle and bustle of modern life provides a unique opportunity to reflect, challenge themselves, and become more engaged with humanity.

647km : The Steep Ascent up O Cebriero

The Film Synopsis

Through a synergistic partnership with San Diego based video agency, emota, we are collectively bringing our story of friendship, struggle, and community to life!

I'll Push You is a story of friendship and love, a story of hope and sacrifice, a story that explores the raw and deep human condition and the connections we all long for. The Camino de Santiago serves as a back drop to the lives of Justin Skeesuck and Patrick Gray, I'll Push You provides insight into what it means to live for one another, what it means to overcome limitations, and what it means to push one another toward who we each long to be.

At first glance, this story appears to be an adventure tackling a physical challenge in order to fulfill the dream of a man who lives life from a wheelchair. The reality of I'll Push You is that there are many ways we can push one another. Justin's perspective on life and the way in which he lives it, pushes Patrick beyond his fears and doubts. Join us as we discover what it means to let go of safety and what it means to rest completely in faith.

Our Crew Working Hard (Over The Pyrenees)

Meet Our Amazing Crew

 Chris Karcher

Chris Karcher

CREATIVE DIRECTOR

In 2009, Chris abandoned his ad agency career to create emota, a video agency with business partner Terry Parish. Six years later, Chris is the President and Chief Creative Office of emota Inc. where he finds passion in creating video content that challenges our perspective on life and provides the opportunity for an ugly cry. Chris's belief in the I'll Push You story has been instrumental in our success

Terry Parish

Terry Parish

DIRECTOR

Like Chris, Terry left his ad agency career to help create emota inc. where he is the Chief Executive Officer. Terry's desire to tell stories that move people emotionally, drew him to walk the Camino and direct the documentary capturing Justin's and Patrick's journey. Terry's immediate and enthusiastic desire to help tell the I'll Push You story has helped us maintain the energy needed to make this film a reality.

Mike McLeod

Mike McLeod

VIDEOGRAPHER

With an absolute lust for adventure and ski film, Mike may seem an unlikely candidate as a videographer for I'll Push You. However, Mike immediately resonated with the story and what we were trying to accomplish with this documentary. His work ethic, adventuresome spirit and eye for photography helped the story of I'll Push You to life.

Jasper Newton

Jasper Newton

VIDEOGRAPHER

Jasper, another ski videographer, was up for the challenge of filming I'll Push You. Hailing from Seattle (or wherever you might find him working i.e. the Caribbean or Japan), he learned of the project 48 hours before filming commenced. Hopping on a plan and traveling halfway around the world, Jasper provided a beautiful eye and a sense of Zen in stressful times.

Robin Romera

Robin Romera

PRODUCTION ASST.

Robin Romera, AKA "Fixer", joined us from Paris, France. Robin's fascination with film, affinity for solving the most difficult problems, love of adventure, and absolutely hilarious story telling, kept things moving forward, even in the face of adversity. He had all of us smiling and laughing each and every day.

To learn more about emota, click on the logo below:

emota
65km : Leaving Pamplona Towards "Alto del Perdon" (Hill of Forgiveness)

Justin & Patrick's Amazing Journey Has Been Featured on Many News & Media Outlets Worldwide, Including the Following: