By Sarah Rodriguez and Diana Diaz
The seniors of Archbishop Molloy H.S., Briarwood, tied their sneakers one last time Oct. 27 for their annual student fundraiser, the Walkathon, but some embarked on a special tradition: an 11-mile walk to the World Trade Center. Together, the seniors didn’t just raise money for their school, but they made lasting memories in their final year of high school.
As the early morning clouds dispersed and the sun glistened, 43 seniors and five faculty members started their walk at the Queens school. Together they made their way through Forest Hills and Middle Village into Brooklyn. They crossed the Williamsburg Bridge into Manhattan and down to Chinatown in the final miles to the World Trade Center.
Each step was dedicated to the late Brother Leo Richard, a cherished Marist Brother and guidance counselor at Molloy, for the way he inspired students to be the best versions of themselves and for the hope he instilled in others.
“Brother Leo was the one who started it all,” said Christopher Dougherty, a guidance counselor who coordinates the World Trade Center Walk. “He knew that out of the many ways to reach a kid, going on a walk allowed for a more free flow of thoughts and feelings. Plus, he was a very active guy.”
During the walk, the first moment of reflection took place when the students reached Fox Funeral Home in Forest Hills. It was there, 22 years ago, that endless amounts of people waited to pay their respects to Brother Leo after his passing in 1995.
During the reflection, under the beautiful autumn trees, faculty and students gathered around Mr. Dougherty to listen to him speak about Brother Leo’s lasting impact on our Molloy family. Many of the faculty and students on the walk that day may not have had the chance to know Brother Leo personally, but hearing Mr. Dougherty speak about him helped everyone understand the love that people had for Brother Leo and the love he had for people in return.
The carefully planned route brought the seniors along Metropolitan Avenue into Brooklyn, where colorful murals painted the way and provided appealing scenery. Stops in Williamsburg allowed for stretching and for tired feet to rest and hungry stomachs to be satisfied. Students and faculty were given one hour to eat and relax before completing the last leg of the journey.
“Vinny’s Pizzeria was the best pizza I’ve ever had in my entire life, providing me the extra pep in my step to get me through the last few miles,” said senior Mary Sullivan about her lunch experience in Williamsburg.
Once everyone reached the World Trade Center, all weariness faded away as cheers erupted amongst the seniors. Their cheers were followed by a somber moment when Mr. Dougherty held a second and final moment of reflection in remembrance of the victims of Sept. 11, 2001.
(Photos: Matthew Ventura)
Overall, the seniors agreed that this was the best Walkathon they had ever taken part in. They will never forget the moments they shared with one another on the way to the World Trade Center.
“Once in a while we should stop and smell the roses,” added Mr. Dougherty. “We can be so busy, especially in a city like New York, so it’s a wonderful thing to be able to walk through three boroughs with friends, all in memory of a legendary Marist Brother whose Peer Group and SMILE counseling programs have inspired Molloy students since 1974 and 1964, respectively.”
Sarah Rodriguez and Diana Diaz are seniors at Archbishop Molloy H.S., Briarwood.