Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


April 24, 2014

Healing steps for Colleen

Benefit 5K walk/run looks beyond tragedy to celebrate Ritzer's spirit

Six months after Colleen Ritzer’s murder, the pain of her loss remains raw for many.

The sorrow is still felt every day in the halls of Danvers High School, where students and staff don pink on Wednesdays in memory of the young math teacher.

It exists on the campus of Assumption College in Worcester, where a tree will be soon be dedicated as a lasting tribute to the alumnae who left her mark there.

And it runs all through her hometown of Andover — from the sanctuary of St. Augustine Church to the classrooms of Andover High and especially over to Dascomb Road where a void that can not be filled has been left in her family.

But over the next 10 days, it is hoped the sorrow gives way to some healing in honor of the cherished woman from Andover killed last October whose legacy remains with all those she touched.

Thousands are expected to gather as two memorial events — timed one week apart and within days of Ritzer’s 25th birthday — take their inaugural steps.

This Sunday, the alumni of Assumption College, where Ritzer earned her undergraduate degree in 2011 on the road to becoming a teacher, are leading a Ritzer Remembrance Walk on campus. The money raised will support an annual endowed scholarship recognizing two of Ritzer’s passions — teaching and math.

The morning will begin with a Mass in the college’s chapel, followed by the dedication of a tree in Ritzer’s memory adjacent to Kennedy Memorial Hall, where the math major with a concentration in secondary education and a minor in psychology attended many of her classes.

The following Sunday, May 4, the attention turns to Andover, where more than 4,000 people are expected to meet at The Park at Bartlet and Chestnut streets for the Step Up for Colleen 5K Walk/Run. The benefit to support charitable activities honoring Ritzer’s legacy is being presented with the backing and assistance of her immediate family.

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