Second annual ‘Top Gun’ 5K will honor late Boy Scout Andrew McMorris in Calverton

In honor of a Boy Scout who dreamed to soar through the skies, a large crowd of supporters will run a 5K on an aircraft runway.

The Andrew McMorris Foundation will host its second annual Andrew’s “Top Gun” Run 5K on the runway of the Enterprise Park at Calverton on Saturday, March 25. Funds raised by the event will be split between the foundation and the Suffolk County Council of Boy Scouts of America. Andrew McMorris, a Boy Scout with Troop 161, was killed by a drunk driver while hiking the Greenbelt Trail in Manorville in September 2018. He was 12.

His family — mother Alisa McMorris, father John McMorris and sister Arianna McMorris — formed the foundation six months later to carry on his spirit through fundraising, scholarships and advocacy.

Andrew McMorris.

The foundation held a walk in 2020 to fund the construction of the Andrew McMorris Lodge at the Baiting Hollow Scout Camp in Calverton, which opened in 2021. Following that success, the group held its inaugural “Top Gun” event last year. That 5K drew a crowd of 1,000 to the Calverton runway.

“When we started planning we had a goal of 250 runners and I thought I’d be happy with 100 runners,” Alisa McMorris said. “As the number started ticking up, for me, there was both a panic and an overwhelming sense of community and support … and you could actually feel Andrew while you were there.”

“The amount of people there, we never expected that to be like that,” Mr. McMorris added. “The outpouring of support and compassion and empathy and love for Andrew and for the event, people rallying together around a good common cause was just very healing for us.”

Mr. and Ms. McMorris believe the community will once again flock to the runway in honor of their son, who, in addition to loving the Scouts, had a great affinity for aviation. Honoring Andrew’s passion, the foundation also offers grants each year for students to attend aerocamp at Mid Island Flight School. The grant is among the foundation’s many scholarship offerings, which also include Eagle Scout grants and dozens of scholarships for graduating seniors across Long Island who demonstrate a commitment to their communities.

“Those are all aspects of Andrew that were important to him,” Ms. McMorris said. “So we want to give that benefit and ability of other students on Long Island and nationwide to have that chance to explore something that’s a little bit outside the regular reading, writing and arithmetic that is so important for a well rounded individual and was so important to Andrew.”

The foundation and Andrew’s parents have committed themselves to advocating for stricter drunk driving laws. They also staunchly supported the Grieving Families Act, which aims to update a 175-year-old state law that limits courts to exclusively considering a deceased person’s income-earning potential when evaluating the compensation an insurance company must pay for wrongful death. Language in the bill explains that the current law, which predates the Civil War, “prohibits the grief-stricken family from recovering damages for their emotional suffering from the wrongdoer.”

The bill passed the State Senate and Assembly before Gov. Kathy Hochul vetoed it Jan. 30. In an op-ed in the New York Daily News, Gov. Hochul called for further analysis before enacting the legislation, writing “it is reasonable to think that the legislation as drafted will drive up already-high health insurance premiums, adding significant costs for many sectors of our economy, particularly hospitals that are still recovering from the pandemic and struggling to stay afloat .”

While the McMorrises will keep pushing for legislative change, their immediate attention remains on the “Top Gun” run and other community events.

“We want his spirit to continue on, we want people to learn from his life, and also to take away the dangers of drinking and driving as well as bring people together for a good cause,” Mr. McMorris said. “We want people to have a sense of community, a sense of compassion and kindness, because that’s what Andrew was all about.”

Those looking to run Andrew’s “Top Gun” Run can visit and follow registration links to sign up. The entry fee is $30 in advance, or $35 day of, and includes an event shirt for those who register by March 16. The children’s fun run entry fee is $15, $20 day of, and also includes a shirt with registration before March 16. A virtual 5K is also available for $30.

On-site registration opens on the runway at 7:30 a.m. March 25. The fun run kicks off at 8:30 a.m., and the 5K begins at 9 a.m.