Sophie McDonald || Contributing writer
On Oct. 2, 2010, Scott and Brenda McGurk’s lives completely changed when their youngest son, freshman baseball player Thomas McGurk, died in an automobile accident in Murray.
Now they want to change the lives of others.
The McGurks have established the Thomas McGurk Memorial Scholarship as a way to memorialize their son’s determination and spirit by assisting young athletes in obtaining an education at Murray State.
The annual scholarship, which can be renewed, will be awarded to full-time students accepted as a member of the ‘Breds baseball team and who comply with NCAA regulations, with first preference given to applicants from the McGurks’ home state of Ohio. If there are no applicants from Ohio, the recipient will be selected from the incoming applicants by the head baseball coach upon approval of the athletic director.
“I wasn’t ready to stop being his father so this is something I can do that makes me feel connected,” Scott McGurk said. “Also, I remember how tough it is for baseball players to receive any scholarship money and this provided another opportunity for me to thank the baseball coaches and team. Their interactions have helped get through these times.”
The McGurks worked more than four months to set up the scholarship and it is still not 100 percent complete.
“I have set up an endowment to keep these scholarships in place long after I have passed,” Scott McGurk said. “(But) the fundraising and time to get these fully funded may take another five years, I just don’t know on this part.”
Finding himself living the sad reality of life without his son in a place where most parents would cut the ties that could stir up painful reminders of their loss, Scott McGurk continues to deepen his relationship with the school his son attended for less than two months by making a yearly trek to Murray and keeping in contact with many of his son’s friends.
“All I can say is everyone grieves in their own way,” Scott McGurk said. “For example, David, Thomas’ brother, cannot bear the thought of visiting the campus and I know it’s difficult for Brenda, so I don’t push that upon her, but for me it can be painful but therapeutic as well. On the drive down I can reflect on our times spent driving eight-plus hours just Thomas and I. We made the trip several times and each one contains some good memories and good conversations. Then once on campus seeing the team again hurts because I never got the opportunity to see him play, but at the same time, the coaches and players make me feel part of the team and that eases some of the sorrow. Baseball was always my favorite sport and biggest personal interest in life, so while it’s been difficult finding any joy in life these past two years but it’s also one more way to stay connected to my son.”
As his son’s legacy lives on through the memorial scholarship, McGurk remains thankful for Murray State and the ties it holds to his son.
Said McGurk: “I prefer for Thomas’ memory to live on through his family, friends and teammates and this is just a tool to perhaps help accomplish this goal.”