The following news release was submitted by the Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Fund. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Andover News.

The 11th Annual Step Up for Colleen 5K, in memory of beloved teacher Colleen Ritzer, will be held on Sunday, May 5th in Andover’s Central Park. The opening ceremony will begin at 8:45 a.m. and the race starts at 9:00. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Fund, which fosters a society of compassion with kindness as a motivating influence in all its endeavors. Renowned for her kindness, zeal for life, teaching, and love of family, the organization emulates Colleen’s compassion through scholarships, grants and other programs with kindness and education at their core. 

Each year, the Step Up for Colleen draws walkers and runners of all ages to the USA Track & Field certified course. They create a sea of pink, which was Colleen’s favorite color.

“The community support for the Step Up for Colleen has been incredible,” said race director Nina Caron. “We are excited to gather again in Andover on May 5th to celebrate Colleen’s life and her commitment to helping and inspiring others.”

This year’s event emcees will be Magic 106.7 radio personalities David O’Leary and Sue Tabb. The post-race green will feature music, refreshments, a balloon artist, a magician, face-painting, Boston sports mascots, VIP appearances including Miss Massachusetts USA Melissa Sapini, and much more.

Online registration is available at colleenritzer.orgThe first 3,000 people to register are guaranteed a pink race shirt, and everyone on each team of 10 or more people will receive a special gift.

Since its inception in 2014, $513,000 in scholarships have been awarded to 100 future teachers and leaders, some of whom have already begun their teaching careers and are pursuing master’s degrees.

“Through the Step Up for Colleen, we are reminded of Colleen’s enduring impact on others as we gather to celebrate her life and raise funds to support the education of future teachers,” said the Ritzer family. “We are so grateful to the thousands who participate in this event each year to remember Colleen and her passion for teaching and transforming the lives of her students. That passion can be witnessed in each of the individuals who are awarded a scholarship in Colleen’s name.”

About Colleen Ritzer

Colleen Ritzer, a lifelong resident of Andover, passed away on October 22, 2013. She was a 2007 graduate of Andover High School and a 2011 graduate of Assumption College. Colleen was a math teacher at Danvers High School and was pursuing a graduate degree at Salem State College. She adored spending time with her family and friends, and was an amazing daughter and big sister to her brother and sister, Daniel and Laura. She made a lasting impression on everyone she met. From a young age, Colleen knew she wanted to be a teacher and worked diligently to achieve her goal. Even though teaching was her profession, it was also one of her favorite hobbies and her passion. She spent countless hours finding unique and creative ways to inspire and teach her students.

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