Nazarene alumni featured in documentary on pilgrimage


Longtime friends Patrick Gray and Justin Skeesuck are featured in a new documentary, “I’ll Push You,” about their 500-mile journey on El Camino de Santiago. (Idaho Press-Tribune photo)

Two Nazarene alumni will premiere a documentary based on their six-week journey across Spain’s El Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James) next week.

I’ll Push You: A Journey of 500 Miles, Two Best Friends and One Wheelchair comes to cinemas for one night 2 November to tell the story of two lifelong friends, Justin Skeesuck and Patrick Gray, as Gray pushes Skeesuck, who is fighting a degenerative neuromuscular disease, in a wheelchair along the entire journey.

“Three years ago, we set out to accomplish this impossible journey," Skeesuck said. "To have it documented on film was a dream come true, but to finally be able to share it with the world, I’m not sure I have words to adequately describe the joy I feel.”

Following the screening there will be an exclusive panel discussion between Skeesuck, Gray, and filmmakers, facilitated by Muscular Distrophy Association ambassador and Grammy-nominated Billy Gilman.

“To finally have a chance to share with so many people is incredible," Gray said. "We have been blessed to live this life, to be a part of this story. For others to find hope in it is a beautiful and humbling thing.”

Hiking this ancient pilgrimage along the vast terrain is challenging enough for the average person, but Justin and Patrick are far from average. While these two friends face various challenges, they come to realize that the greatest rewards of the journey are those of self-discovery, a renewed sense of purpose, and a deeper appreciation for community, all of which ultimately redefine the meaning of the phrase, “I’ll push you.”  

“This amazing event features an incredible, self-sacrificial friendship,” said Kymberli Frueh, Fathom Events vice president of programming. “Seeing their journey unfold, with each obstacle along the way, inspires the innate human spirit of adventure and reminds you what it means to be a true and good friend. Justin and Patrick’s tenacity, endurance, and enormous love for one another is a beautiful thing to see.”

Terry Parish, co-director of I'll Push You, explained his motivation to join the project.

“For us, the Camino and this project has always been about the power of our communities, big or small," he said. "From partnering with Fathom to working with the MDA or collaborating with music groups like Switchfoot on the soundtrack, this event is the culmination of our 4-year labor for love.”

Chris Karcher, directorial partner, believes the film is important in today's cultural climate.

“In a time when many are feeling on-edge, we are really proud to be offering a documentary that proves that our days aren’t nearly as dark as we are sometimes led to believe, but rather are lit with goodness and the possibility of real connection.”

Skeesuck and Gray are 1997 graduates of Point Loma Nazarene University and Northwest Nazarene University, respectively.

For more information and tickets, visit fathomevents.com.

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