Andrew McMorris, shown in an undated photo, died in 2018 at...

Andrew McMorris, shown in an undated photo, died in 2018 at age 12 after being struck by a drunken driver. Credit: McMorris family

An empty runway where a Wading River boy learned to ride his bike, before dying when he was12 because of a drunken driver, soon will be the site of a bittersweet celebration.

On Saturday, family, friends and other Long Islanders will mark what would have been Andrew McMorris' 18th birthday with a 5-kilometer run event at Enterprise Park at Calverton. 

In 2018, a drunken driver hit and killed Andrew while he was hiking in Manorville with his Boy Scout troop.

“He used to pretend like he was a jet, taking off on that exact runway,” his mother, Alisa McMorris, 50, of Wading River, recalled in a recent interview. “To be on the runway and transform it into this giant celebration … We’re surrounded by all of this love.”

The 5k event, now in its third year, will be co-hosted by Boy Scouts of America's Suffolk County Council and Andrew McMorris Foundation. The nonprofit focuses on drunken driving prevention, lobbying for tougher drunken driving legislation and providing student scholarships.

Nearly 800 people have signed up for this year’s run, according to McMorris. She called her late son’s 18th birthday an “emotional” milestone and said Saturday’s event will be flecked with tributes in his memory.

A flyover of a Cessna plane Andrew learned to pilot at Mid Island Flight School's AeroCamp the summer before he died is planned for around 10:25 a.m. — his time of birth. The song that had been his favorite to play on ukulele, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” will play after a moment of silence.

“We’ll have that moment of reflection, and then it’s a party on the runway,” McMorris said.

The event also will include her late son's favorite treats, including from McNulty's Ice Cream in Miller Place.  

Proceeds from the run will help provide scholarships and “scouterships” from both sponsoring organizations. The scholarships will go beyond typical academic awards, spanning performing arts programs and grants for students who want to take flight lessons.

“They’ve taken Andrew’s passions, embraced them and help other children try to fulfill those passions,” said Donna Lillie, one of the event organizers.

The Boy Scouts council uses a portion of the funds to subsidize annual dues for members in need. 

Last year, the foundation gave out $22,000 in scholarships to students at 20 different high schools on Long Island. This year, the foundation is expanding the scholarship program to students nationwide, McMorris said.

Those programs, along with advocating for legislative change and sharing Andrew’s story in local schools are ways for the family to move forward, according to his mother.

“There is a fulfillment that I get from talking about it and maybe saving just one life from this 100% preventable crime,” McMorris said.

Thomas Murphy, the driver in the fatal 2018 crash, is serving an 8⅓ to 25-year sentence after a jury convicted him of aggravated vehicular homicide and other charges in 2019.

In October, the New York Court of Appeals denied an application his defense team filed seeking to overturn the conviction.

For more race information, visit andrewmcmorrisfoundation.org.

An empty runway where a Wading River boy learned to ride his bike, before dying when he was12 because of a drunken driver, soon will be the site of a bittersweet celebration.

On Saturday, family, friends and other Long Islanders will mark what would have been Andrew McMorris' 18th birthday with a 5-kilometer run event at Enterprise Park at Calverton. 

In 2018, a drunken driver hit and killed Andrew while he was hiking in Manorville with his Boy Scout troop.

“He used to pretend like he was a jet, taking off on that exact runway,” his mother, Alisa McMorris, 50, of Wading River, recalled in a recent interview. “To be on the runway and transform it into this giant celebration … We’re surrounded by all of this love.”

The 5k event, now in its third year, will be co-hosted by Boy Scouts of America's Suffolk County Council and Andrew McMorris Foundation. The nonprofit focuses on drunken driving prevention, lobbying for tougher drunken driving legislation and providing student scholarships.

Nearly 800 people have signed up for this year’s run, according to McMorris. She called her late son’s 18th birthday an “emotional” milestone and said Saturday’s event will be flecked with tributes in his memory.

A flyover of a Cessna plane Andrew learned to pilot at Mid Island Flight School's AeroCamp the summer before he died is planned for around 10:25 a.m. — his time of birth. The song that had been his favorite to play on ukulele, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” will play after a moment of silence.

“We’ll have that moment of reflection, and then it’s a party on the runway,” McMorris said.

The event also will include her late son's favorite treats, including from McNulty's Ice Cream in Miller Place.  

Proceeds from the run will help provide scholarships and “scouterships” from both sponsoring organizations. The scholarships will go beyond typical academic awards, spanning performing arts programs and grants for students who want to take flight lessons.

“They’ve taken Andrew’s passions, embraced them and help other children try to fulfill those passions,” said Donna Lillie, one of the event organizers.

The Boy Scouts council uses a portion of the funds to subsidize annual dues for members in need. 

Last year, the foundation gave out $22,000 in scholarships to students at 20 different high schools on Long Island. This year, the foundation is expanding the scholarship program to students nationwide, McMorris said.

Those programs, along with advocating for legislative change and sharing Andrew’s story in local schools are ways for the family to move forward, according to his mother.

“There is a fulfillment that I get from talking about it and maybe saving just one life from this 100% preventable crime,” McMorris said.

Thomas Murphy, the driver in the fatal 2018 crash, is serving an 8⅓ to 25-year sentence after a jury convicted him of aggravated vehicular homicide and other charges in 2019.

In October, the New York Court of Appeals denied an application his defense team filed seeking to overturn the conviction.

For more race information, visit andrewmcmorrisfoundation.org.

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