One year after an unthinkable tragedy, Boy Scout Troop 161 and the family of Andrew McMorris are setting out to finish what they started.
On Monday, Sept. 30, the first anniversary of Andrew’s death, family members, friends and Scouts from all over Suffolk County will set out to “finish the hike” and celebrate a life cut short.
The 12-year-old was killed while hiking with his troop in Manorville, after a Holbrook man allegedly drove drunk and struck several Scouts walking along David Terry Road.
A criminal trial is pending for the driver, Thomas Murphy.
“As it was coming up to the year anniversary, we were thinking of some ways that we could honor and remember Andrew,” explained Bobby Rabbitt, senior district executive for the Boy Scouts of Suffolk County. “The troop never got the chance to finish the hike.”
Mr. Rabbitt said that the troop has received an outpouring of love and support — and even had inquiries about joining the organization, citing Andrew’s love for it.
“Scouting is a very close-knit community,” he said.
The Sept. 30 hike will begin at Shoreham-Wading River High School at 8 a.m., where participants will check in and enjoy a DJ and concessions while waiting to be bused to the trailhead. A Scout recruitment tent will also be set up.
Participants can opt for hikes of one, five or 10 miles. Each group is asked to make a donation to the Andrew McMorris Foundation or the lodge fund, which will support construction of a cabin in his honor at the Baiting Hollow Scout Camp.
Baiting Hollow Camp director Jim Grimaldi said in an interview last week that crews have poured a foundation for the cabin and framing is expected to begin within the next few weeks.
The 3,200-square-foot building will replace an aging structure and Mr. Grimaldi said he hopes it will serve as a tribute to Andrew, where others can come to remember him.
Event organizers noted that they have partnered with Brookhaven Town and the Suffolk County Police Department to create a safe hiking event, by closing roadways where necessary and escorting hikers across certain points due to the number of hikers. More than 200 hikers have signed up through Tuesday.
The route will wind through the Pine Barrens as part of the Greenbelt Trail network and will pass by the crash site and memorial, allowing supporters to pay their respects to Andrew before pressing on.
“He passed away doing something he loved,” Mr. Rabbitt said, albeit far too soon.
The hike is the first of two events planned to commemorate Andrew’s legacy that day.
After the hike, the Andrew McMorris Foundation will host a benefit fundraiser at the Suffolk Theater in Riverhead that will feature food, live music by Decadia, special guests and raffle prizes.
Andrew’s mother, Alisa McMorris, said the events are planned as a way to remember Andrew’s kindness.
“As we enter the anniversary of the worst day of our lives, we want to celebrate Andrew’s life,” she said Friday. “I always taught my children to finish what they start and the hike is a place to honor Andrew and his Scout family and finish what they started one year ago.”
The Suffolk Theater event will also raise money to provide scholarships to students, Ms. McMorris said.
Last year, the foundation handed out scholarships, known as the “Andrew Spirit Award,” to two graduating Shoreham-Wading River High School seniors in Andrew’s honor. Scholarships also went to two eighth-graders moving up to the high school.
A description of the awards highlights Andrew’s “contagious charisma” and knack for bringing people together. The scholarships, Ms. McMorris said, are meant to honor a students who exemplify similar traits.
They are hoping to expand the scholarship to other districts in future years, she said.
In addition to raising funds to provide scholarship opportunities for students interested in aviation and performing arts — two of Andrew’s passions — the foundation’s goals include supporting youth in the Shoreham-Wading River community and advocating for legislative change alongside Mothers against Drunk Driving and Students against Destructive Decisions.
To register for the hike or learn more, visit sccbsa.org/mcmorrishike19.
Tickets for the benefit can be purchased online at andrewmcmorrisfoundation.org. Those wishing to donate an auction item or gift basket are asked to contact [email protected].