Thousands to Step Up for Colleen Ritzer on May 7 in Andover

Runners and Walkers Will Again Create a “Sea of Pink” at Fourth Annual 5K

Held in Memory of Teacher Colleen Ritzer

ANDOVER — The Fourth Annual Step Up for Colleen 5K, held in memory of beloved teacher Colleen Ritzer, will take place in Andover on Sunday, May 7. Proceeds from the event will benefit college scholarships in Colleen’s name that will be awarded to graduating Andover and Danvers High School seniors who plan to pursue a teaching career after college. Century Bank is the event’s title sponsor. 
Each year, the Step Up for Colleen 5K ( draws thousands of walkers and runners of all ages to the USA Track & Field certified course that starts in Central Park in Andover. Many participants never met Colleen, but are so moved by her story that they feel compelled to join others in remembering the amazing teacher. Brian Feeney, an Andover native and captain of the 300-strong Team Century Bank, is touched by all she stood for. 
“She was from Andover, and while I did not know Colleen, we feel a special bond with her because of how she led her life, and how many lives she impacted,” says Feeney. “Never before have we come to feel so close to someone we never knew, and that is because her message was so powerful, genuine, and loving in spirit.” 
The opening ceremony will begin at 8:45 a.m. The national anthem will be sung by Katie Rex, a 2015 Andover High School graduate and a recipient of a Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship. She is studying at the University of New Hampshire to become a kindergarten teacher. The Ritzer family is expected to briefly address the crowd.
The 5K walk/run begins at 9 a.m., and winds through the streets of Andover and the scenic Moncrieff Cochran Sanctuary at Phillips Academy. Near the finish line, there will be refreshments, live music, face painting, balloon creations, an awards ceremony, and much more. Attendees are encouraged to wear pink, which was Colleen’s favorite color.
“On behalf of our family, we would like to extend our sincere gratitude to race director Nina Caron and others who have worked tirelessly who plan for this event, and to all those who participate in the Step Up for Colleen 5K Walk/Run who do their part to continue Colleen’s legacy. It is incredible to see the community come together each year to honor our beloved daughter and sister,” says the Ritzer family. 

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 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. 

The Step Up for Colleen Fund, held at the Essex County Community Foundation, supports charitable activities that honor the legacy of Colleen Ritzer, including the Colleen E. Ritzer Scholarship Fund, which benefits graduating Andover and Danvers High School seniors who demonstrate a passion for teaching, academic excellence, and love of family. Since its inception, the Colleen E. Ritzer Scholarship Fund has awarded more than $86,000 to 30 deserving students. 

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