CALVERTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — It’s opening was delayed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, but finally a labor of love has been completed on Long Island.
There’s a new Boy Scout memorial lodge built in memory of a young Scout killed by a drunk driver in 2018, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Monday.
McMorris Lodge is a beautiful structure built on a foundation of tragedy. It was constructed in memory of 12-year-old Andrew McMorris, a bittersweet accomplishment for his parents and sister, who turned pain into purpose.
“It’s really emotional because it’s a place that’s here for him and we want others to know about him and do good,” mother Alisa McMorris said.
It’s a place that transcends nails and mortar. The official opening on Saturday included Troop 161 — the Scouts who were hiking with Andrew when he was struck and killed by a drunk driver.
The 3,000 square-foot, 40-bed heated lodge at the Baiting Hollow Scout Camp will be a place, “to learn about his kindness, his compassion,” Alisa McMorris said.
“It’s bittersweet for us because, obviously, Andrew should still be here. He should still be ranking up in Scouts. But the fact that his scouting spirit can still stay alive through this lodge … people can learn from his life,” John McMorris added.
Andrew’s life was needlessly cut short, his parents said. They have been lobbying for a federal law to make drunk-driving prevention technology standard in new cars.
“We can save 10,000 lives a year with new technology that’s already present in your car,” John McMorris said.
“This kind of loss is 100% preventable. We can stop more lodges being built for tragedies,” Alisa McMorris said.
“We are taking what has been torn apart and we are building something beautiful on top of it, because we want to make our nightmare something that will make change, so that people don’t have to go through what we went through,” John McMorris added.
The McMorris family raised $130,000 for the lodge, but much more was donated, including a fireplace which holds previous possessions.
“His Aviator glasses that he wore during his flying lesson, a painting brush, because he was an exquisite painter. It’s actually right in the bottom of this fireplace, so that a little piece of Andrew is with this building forever,” John McMorris said.
The lodge will be available to Scouts, youth groups, and even corporate retreats. Its first overnight guests will be the Boy Scouts of Troop 161.
Hearings are set to begin this week in Washington on bipartisan bills to require drunk-driving prevention technology in all new vehicles. Alcohol-related deaths spiked 9% last year, even as fewer miles were driven due to the pandemic.