Pulling together for the Morrises
If Sam Derr was asked to list her favorite teachers from Warwick High School, one name would surely be on the list.
“He was always just that teacher where kids would go in and out of his classroom,” Derr, a 2010 WHS grad, said. “I always enjoyed talking to him. No matter what kind of a day he was having, he would always ask you about sports, about your day, everything.”
Morris, 46, is now retired from Warwick after being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, but he and his family &tstr; which includes wife, Sandy, and children Tyler and Madi &tstr; are still in a lot of people’s thoughts and prayers.
In fact, they will be at the forefront of well-wishers’ minds on Saturday, Aug. 2. Derr is currently organizing a dodgeball tournament for that day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Warwick High School gymnasiums, with all proceeds benefiting the Morris family.
Derr, who recently graduated from Lebanon Valley College following an All-American career as a pitcher with the Lady Dutchmen’s softball team, is proving that she’s got a heart as big as her mound presence. Soon after hearing reports about Curt’s retirement, she felt inspired to do something for the Morrises.
Naturally, Derr’s first instincts were to form a benefit softball tournament.
“Then I realized it might be a little bit too difficult getting bats, helmets and umpires,” she said. “I was talking to my boyfriend (Warwick grad) Zach Snyder and he was like, ‘How about something like a dodgeball tournament.’ I thought, ‘Wow, that could actually be really easy,’ and so it stemmed from there.”
Getting help and support on the home front has been quick as a snap. Sam’s mother, Amy, who teaches with Sandy and coaches the Warwick girls basketball team, has been by her side. So has her father Randy and sisters Madi and Rylee. Madi did an open campus with Sandy and graduated from Warwick in 2013 with Tyler.
Having the backing of the WHS girls basketball team is a huge plus in the equation.
“I emailed (Warwick Athletic Director) Ryan Landis about the gym times and he thought that with insurance purposes, it was a lot easier to do it through a school team,” Derr recalled, “and my mom was like, ‘Hey, the basketball team will be more than willing to help do it.’”
Family has been a central theme behind the tournament’s formation. Curt is a family man who touched many during a Sunday service at Lancaster Evangelical Free Church after he was diagnosed with the disease.
“He talked about how his faith was always the number one thing,” Derr said. “Our family (members) are huge believers in God as well, and it was awesome to know they had so much faith even though something like this happened to them.”
The number one thing for tournament-goers is to make Aug. 2 a successful day. Teams of eight, including at least one female, are being accepted. Cost is $10 per person, payable at the door. Write checks to “The Morris Family” and email teams to firstname.lastname@example.org by Saturday, July 26.
“I don’t know what kid doesn’t like dodgeball,” Derr said. “I know a lot of it has been put on Facebook, so once the social media virus kinda hits with everybody in high school, I’m sure that they’re going to want to do it.”
There is no limit on how many teams are being accepted. Food, drinks and prizes will be available during the day. For any questions, contact Derr at 405-8000 or email email@example.com.
Depending on the community response, the hope is that it could become an annual event. If early signs are any indication, the tournament seems headed toward a success.
“The Morrises have always been great to me and great to my family, so it’s the least that we could do,” Derr said. “There have been a lot of people who have asked about it, if they could donate anything, if they could help with anything. So it’s been awesome. It just shows that Lititz is such a cool town.”
Sandy Morris also relates to the generosity of Lititz in relation to her family’s situation.
“The community support as a whole has just been overwhelming,” she said.