Boy Scout project brings combat vets and kids together in Adirondacks
July 26, 2012
LAKE PLACID, NY -- New York Army National Guard Sergeant Major David Piwowarski and his14-year old son Bryan, zoomed down an Olympic bob sled run on Wednesday, July 25, thanks to 16-year old Boy Scout Matt Murray.
It only took 41 seconds to complete the half mile track at the Mt. Van Hovenburg sports complex, but it was an unforgettable experience.
"It's been really fun hanging out with my dad and doing stuff together," said Bryan.
This was exactly what Murray, a Life Scout from Brunswick, NY had in mind when he envisioned Operation P.A.T.H., short for 'Parents and Teens Hanging'. The Eagle Scout project brought 60 combat veterans and their teen children to the Olympic venue to enjoy a day together.
Scouts working on Scoutings highest award must plan and execute a project of benefit to the community in order to earn the Eagle rank.
Events throughout the day included bob sled runs and rifle shooting at the Mt. Van Hovenburg sports complex, a "Wet and Wild" show at the Olympic Ski Jump facility, gondola rides up Whiteface Mountain to explore hiking trails, and dinner at the Lake Placid American Legion Post 326.
"We really appreciate Matt doing this, with my work and drill schedule, it's tough to find time to do things together," Piwowarski said. "This was an ambitious project, especially for someone so young and he did an exceptional job."
Planning for the day's event began over two years ago, when Murray, then age 14, met returning combat Soldiers and wanted to do something to help veterans reintegrate back to family life.
"As I began planning my Eagle Scout project, I thought it would be great to give teenagers the opportunity to spend the day together with their parents and reconnect," Murray said.
Murray focused the next year raising money through raffles, pancake breakfasts and bowling tournaments and with help from his troop and several local organizations; he raised over $6,000 to cover expenses.
Murray hopes the ground work he established to connect local organizations, volunteers and the Olympic Regional Development Authority will enable the project to continue so more families can enjoy similar experiences.
It's been a long journey and seeing veterans and their children enjoy a day like this is what it's all about." Murray said.