Albert Ales III & Zachary Morris Scholarship Fund
Zack Morris and Albert Ales III tragically lost their lives in a vehicle accident on May 24, 2019 in Cusco, Peru on their high school graduation trip to hike to Machu Picchu and see the Rainbow Mountains. These boys were so loved that this campaign was originally established by the SNI family to offset repatriation and funeral costs for these two fine young men with any extra proceeds to go a scholarship in their honor. However, the community response has been overwhelming with contributions flowing in from far and wide as the scope of this loss and tragedy has touched so many hearts and the generosity has been overwhelming. The boys are home now from Peru and the families will cover travel and funerary costs themselves. So ALL donated money (less GoFundMe transaction fees) will flow directly into a scholarship fund in Albert and Zack's memory. The families are setting up a non profit to steward these funds and are looking into opportunities to work within the established local philanthropic community. Both families hope a lasting endowment can be created that gives 2 students a year from the Southeast Inter-Baccalaureate (IB) Program meaningful scholarship support in honor of the boys' memory. Students who reflect the values, character and determination that Albert Ales III and Zack Morris exhibited.
Zack and Albert were driven to make positive changes in their community and the world through creativity, innovation and ingenuity. They represented intelligent, hardworking young people with a vision for positive change and the confidence and bravery to ask what they could do to bring that vision to life. Albert took to engineering like a fish to water and wanted to design more fuel efficient engines and Zack wanted to serve his country through the Navy, then study medicine and then serve as a doctor in third world countries. Both young men demonstrated a willingness to take chances, get outside of their comfort zone and throw themselves into challenging projects. They preferred to take the "road less traveled", not the safe path which meant sometimes they failed or were met with disappointment. But in the face of those setbacks, they would doggedly get up, dust themselves off, re-calibrate, learn from that failure and use this knowledge as a springboard to take aim at a new goal.
These young men were resilient, resourceful, compassionate, had a strong work ethic and a positive attitude. They believed in the importance of fairness, in supporting their teammates and would not tolerate bullies. They also knew how to laugh, have a good time and enjoyed the close fellowship of friends. And if you ask their teachers, yes, sometimes they could be a little irreverent, sarcastic and often enjoyed the opportunity to question or find inconsistencies in lines of reasoning or logic. But learning awakens all of the parts of young minds and it is a compliment to the teacher than has helped shape such an intellect that is able to think critically, is unafraid to respectfully challenge ideas and to be its authentic self. The greatest growth in understanding comes through the exchange of ideas and that can only happen in an environment which fosters freedom of thought and expression where people are not afraid to have opinions and share them. The IB Program at Southeast High School helped to shape and mold these boys into the impressive young men they were becoming and it is an honor for their respective families to play a small role in establishing an enduring legacy in their memory at this institution. Our sincere thanks to all who have given already and to those who may give in the future to help make this vision a reality in memory of these young men. Please help us create a lasting legacy of scholarship in honor of Albert Ales III and Zack Morris at the Southeast High School IB Program in Bradenton, Florida.
Photo 2 - Passage Zack wrote in classmate's yearbook about the fleeting nature of life and the importance of making the moments count. May 2019.
Photo 3 - Zacks' name patch, Yale ROTC shoulder emblem and the medallion he would have earned this summer through basic training at Great Lakes Naval Training Center. Items placed on one of Zack's favorite SCUBAnauts T-shirts. Our thanks to Captain Wayne Grasdock of Yale University ROTC. August 2019.
Photo 2 - Albert standing atop pillar at San Cristobal Church looking out over the City of Cusco
Photo 3 - Albert on a camping trip with friends
Photo 2 - Zack with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island discussing Marine Ecological Restoration
Photo 3 - Zack and partner prepping for the open water navigation drill - Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge
It is bittersweet to write at this time – many of the boys’ friends have already headed off to the military, work or college, or they will do so in the next 2 weeks. We and the Ales family would have been seeing our 2 sons off as well if not for the accident that took them away so young. We have been touched by all of the many gestures of kindness and compassion extended to us. The students who graduated with the boys from South East and their teachers have been so gracious to spend time with us and share memories, stories, voicemails, pictures and videos of the boys. It was clear that the boys loved so many others deeply and were loved in return.
On behalf of the Ales family and ourselves, you have our sincere gratitude for your generosity, prayers, hugs, cards, food, emails or inviting us to dinner, drinks, events or just listening. The boys’ lives touched so many people who have reached out to us that we cannot thank them all – but I wanted to take a moment to express special appreciation to the Canadian couple we met in the airport at Cusco on our return journey home, Bryan and Gisele Mogan. We were catching the flight back to Lima to return with the boys’ belongings but we had too many carryon items. We did not want to check the boys’ things because they were irreplaceable and too precious to take a chance of losing them. As the stewards made the rounds checking those in the line for bags and measuring for allowable size, we grew anxious - especially since we did not speak Spanish. But this couple calmed us and offered to support getting the items on the plane since they did not have many carryon items themselves. These complete strangers even offered to share their lodging that night in Lima or to drive hours out of their way if we just needed someone to talk to. We already had a place to stay that night and people waiting to drive us safely from the Lima airport, so we declined their kind offers. We had shared the boys’ sad story with them but did not tell them about the boys’ fund. They apparently found it on their own and made a donation to it later that night. That is the sort of selfless kindness to others that our boys embodied, it was how they had lived during their short lives and it was how they would have continued to live if they had been given the chance. And it is how we will remember them. So if you have a chance to show kindness and compassion to others, especially to those less fortunate or who are struggling, please do it in memory of Zack and Albie knowing that wherever they are, they are smiling in approval.
I will try to post some pictures shared at the memorial service that were requested, but GoFundMe only allows 3 photos per update. So it may take a few updates. We are not sure how long the GoFundMe account will stay active, but any donations received will continue to be transferred to the Community Foundation.
God Bless you all,
Sincerely, on behalf of Kim & Albert Ales Jr. and Laura & Kevin Morris
Photo 1 is a collage of Zack cutting up in class with Justin and the SIMP crew together (John, Anthony, Albie and Zack)
Photo 2 is Adela Traeger, the ASU student studying abroad who the boys met and befriended in Lima and who we met 1 week after the accident
Photo 3 is the cross we put up and the lilies we laid down just a few feet from the accident scene in Cusco