The road race established to honor the life of the late Colleen Ritzer of Andover was cancelled this year due to coronavirus. Still, her family hopes people will do random acts of kindness from now through May 13, Colleen’s birthday, in honor of her legacy.
The road race had been scheduled for May 3.
“People were disappointed that we had to cancel," said Kristen Walsh, director of public relations for the Step Up For Colleen 5K.
The race is now in its seventh year and generally kicks off from The Park. All proceeds go toward the Colleen E. Ritzer Memorial Scholarship Fund. It’s a scholarship for select Andover and/or Danvers High School students who are pursuing a career in teaching.
Ritzer, who taught math at Danvers High School, was murdered by her then 14-year-old student Philip Chism in 2013.
“I am really disappointed because this is the one time of year when everybody gets together and we can celebrate her in a positive way. And it’s also really nice to see people,” said Catie Lamoly, 24, who was in Ritzer’s 11th-grade algebra class when she died.
“You really can’t say anything bad about her,” she said of Ritzer. “She really didn’t have a bad bone in her body. She was kind to everybody.”
Walsh said random acts of kindness are powerful, yet simple: smiling at a stranger; texting or calling a loved one; ordering takeout or a gift card from a local restaurant; providing lunch for nurses, doctors, hospital staff or first responders; shopping local; sending flowers; sending a card to someone.
"Anything that will cause someone to smile during this difficult time of social distancing," she said. "And always, thank a teacher.”