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Schnurr & Hough Family

Moravia residents Jackie Schnurr, Brian Hough and their son, Ben, are pictured at Canyonlands National Park while on a family vacation last summer. 

While trying to move forward after losing her husband and father in a tragic accident this fall, Jackie Schnurr said the Moravia community has been there for her family.

"Moravia has just been awesome to my son and I," Schnurr said this week. "The community has been so supportive ... it's just mind blowing."

That support will be on public display this weekend, when area residents will come together on Sunday to host a fundraiser for Schnurr and her family.

Schnurr's husband, Brian Hough, and father, James Schnurr, lost their lives in the Oct. 6 Schoharie County limousine crash that killed 20 people. State police said a 2001 Ford Excursion limousine traveled through an intersection at Route 30A without stopping, and struck a parked 2015 Toyota Highlander in a parking lot. The Highlander then struck and killed both Hough and James Schnurr.

Jackie Schnurr and Hough called Moravia their hometown community for the past 14 years. Schnurr, an associate professor of biology and environmental science, began working at Wells College in the fall of 2004 and became the faculty athletics representative in 2007, according to her profile on the school's website. Hough also taught as an adjunct professor in chemistry at Wells College in 2016, according to a college spokesperson, before he eventually went to teach at the State University of New York at Oswego.

Schnurr, originally from Rhineback in the Hudson Valley, said she and Hough, originally from Carlisle, Pennsylvania, met while in graduate school at Idaho State University. A few years after the couple got married in 2007, they had a son, Ben, who is now 9.   

Since the accident, Schnurr has had strangers stop her on the street in Moravia to offer their condolences and ask if there is anything that they can do to help. She said Ben is a Cub Scout and Hough was a Cub Scout leader, so people from that community also showed support by attending Hough's memorial.

The fundraiser event on Sunday, hosted by Schnurr's friend and former Wells College coworker Valerie Kelly, will be the first public event the community has hosted since the accident. Schnurr said that she, Ben and her mother, Joan, all plan to attend. Schnurr is certain that the event will be difficult to get through. 

Kelly, also a Moravia resident, said she wanted to do something kind to support the family during what she described as a "horrible time."

"I just feel like Moravia is a really, really small but big community," said Kelly.

She is hoping the event, at Drifters on Owasco, will draw people not only from Moravia, but also the larger Syracuse and Oswego communities.

Hough, 46, was an assistant professor of geology at SUNY Oswego at the time he died. Schnurr said that students loved having him as a teacher and are working toward dedicating a classroom in his name.

Kelly — who said her mission and passion is to help people in need — said her hope for the event is just to show Schnurr that the community is there for her.

"All the community is coming together (for Schnurr and her family) to know that we care about what she's going through," Kelly said.

In addition to purchasing $10 meal tickets at the door of the event, Kelly said there will be other opportunities through raffle tickets for prizes such as pet grooming, an overnight stay at Ithaca's La Tourelle hotel, various gift baskets and a 50/50 raffle to help raise money for Schnurr. In terms of entertainment, Perform 4 Purpose will perform and children activities such as face painting will be also be present.

Kelly said anyone interested in volunteering their time on Sunday or making a donation for the raffle can contact her at (315) 730-2228. Gift baskets for the raffle can also be dropped off at Drifters on either Friday or Saturday. For those that can't make the event, Kelly said people can still make donations on the gofundme that is run by Schnurr's sister-in-law.

While Schnurr referred to the whole fundraiser event as "amazing," she said even more important than the monetary support right now is the emotional support and chance for people to come together.

"It shows us we're a part of the community, we're not alone," Schnurr said. "Everybody is there just to lift us up."

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Staff writer Megan Ehrhart can be reached at (315) 282-2244 or megan.ehrhart@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @MeganEhrhart.

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Towns Reporter