On July 25, a bus with 55 passengers consisting of local veterans and their children will travel to Lake Placid, N.Y. as part of Operation P.A.T.H. – a day for family bonding at different Olympic venues. Also on this bus will be Matt Murray, a local Boy Scout and creator of Operation P.A.T.H.
Albany.com took some time to talk with young Murray to get a better look at Operation P.A.T.H. and what the plans are for July 25!
1.) Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I am 16 years old and will be a junior at Tamarac High School this coming fall, and I play soccer and basketball. I am the Senior Patrol Leader of my Troop 537 out of Brunswick, N.Y.
2.) Where did you get the idea and inspiration to put together a bus trip for veterans and their kids to Lake Placid? Why are you doing it?
I am doing Operation P.A.T.H. for my Eagle Scout Project in order to obtain the highest rank of Boy Scouting – Eagle Scout. The inspiration came from a BBQ I volunteered at with Patriot Hills more than two years ago. It has taken that long to form and plan this trip, which will be happening this month.
3.) Take me through how you got this idea off the ground. Who helped you out? What did you have to do, and who did you have to contact to make this idea a reality?
I had to talk to the Patriot Hills Board and the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) to see if something like this was even possible, and if so, how much it would cost. When I found out it was possible, I knew I couldn’t do this on my own. It took help from my Boy Scout Troop, my family, Patriot Hills, ORDA, the Center Brunswick Fire House, The Brunswick Sportsman’s Club, The Lake Placid American Legion and the support and donations from numerous local businesses and organizations like the Marine Corp League, the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the Combat Vets Riding Club. Politicians have also donated to my project such as Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin and Senator Roy McDonald. I have been supported in all of my efforts to raise my goal of $5,000.
4.) Have you been fundraising to make this trip a reality?
All of the money I have raised has come from fundraising or donations. I put on a pancake breakfast, I wrote “support a soldier” letters to politicians and businesses where they could sponsor someone’s seat, and I held a bowl-a-thon at the Uncle Sam Lanes in Troy.
5.) How has promotion of this event been going? Have you filled the whole bus?
The bus has been completely filled. Mostly because of my connections at the Department of Military and Naval Affairs with PA Corrine Lombardo. I did, however, visit numerous military events in an attempt to help fill the bus.
6.) What are the reactions of people who have either heard about what you are doing with Operation P.A.T.H or who will be going on the trip?
Everyone I have talked to has praised me for my work. It seems that most people have the same proactive attitude towards helping veterans and their families, which definitely gives me the motivation to keep going.
7.) Will you be going on the trip?
I will be going on the trip with a few helpers from my Scout Troop. We will be helping to facilitate all of the events and keep everything moving smoothly. I am most looking forward to the smiles on everyone’s faces as they get the opportunity to utilize many of the Olympic venues with their loved ones who they get few opportunities to spend time with because of the military lifestyle.
8.) What are some of the different opportunities the veterans and their children will have on this trip?
The participants will get rides down the old bobsled run, shooting opportunities on the biathlon range, rides to the top of the ski jumps, lunch at the Wet N’ Wild show where athletes do tricks into a pool, gondola rides up Whiteface Mountain, tickets to the Olympic Museum and dinner at the local American Legion Post.
9.) What do you hope to get out of this experience, and what do you hope the veterans and their kids get out of the trip?
I hope to learn more about the relationships in military families. And I hope that the families will have a quality, stress-free environment to bond and make up lost time.
10.) Do you have anything else you’d like to add about Operation P.A.T.H.?
This would not have been possible without the overall support of everyone. This truly is a cause that I am happy to act on. It’s not everyday you get to make a difference like this and I cherish this opportunity.
Kudos to Matt Murray and his desire to give military families this great opportunity! The Operation P.A.T.H. bus trip embarks for Lake Placid this Wednesday, July 25, 2012. Have any encouraging remarks or supportive words for this young, soon-to-be Eagle Scout? Add your message in the comments below!