On Saturday, May 19th, runners, fitness enthusiasts and cancer awareness supporters from Northborough and beyond will unite at Melican Middle School for the third annual Lisa Kaplan 5K Run/Walk and Kids’ Fun Run with all proceeds donated to 15-40 Connection.

Last year’s race resulted in a $20,000 donation to help educate more people on how to identify and act on the early warning signs of cancer. It was an incredible level of support that we hope to repeat this year with a one-of-a-kind, family-friendly experience no other 5K in Central Mass. can match!

Lisa Kaplan was a beloved Spanish teacher at Melican Middle School for 12 years before she passed away in November 2015, just weeks after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of mesothelioma.

Kaplan’s friends and colleagues decided to honor her memory and the spirit of her life’s work educating others by donating all the money raised from the Lisa Kaplan 5K to 15-40 Connection to help others identify cancer early on.

“Lisa would have really appreciated the idea of the educational aspect of what (15-40 Connection does) and giving people more knowledge,” said Laura Frem, a teacher at Melican Middle School and one of the race directors along with Beth Elam and Danielle Leboeuf. “We were very drawn to that.”

What sets the Lisa Kaplan 5K apart

The Lisa Kaplan 5K remembers a passionate teacher in the Northborough community by providing a top-level experience for participants.

Pre-registration for the 5K is $25 for adults, $15 for ages 14 and under and $5 for the Kids’ Fun Run, which will take place 30 minutes before the 5K’s 9:00 a.m. start time. There is a small increase to $30 for adults and $20 for runners 14 and under for same-day registration.

Runners that register before May 6 are guaranteed to receive a long-sleeve race shirt, while they are also giving away a limited number of stuff-sack backpacks for early registrants. The earlier you register, the more race swag you’ll receive!

The USATF Certified route runs along Pleasant Street, Howard Street and Valentine Road, and briefly on Church Street, following a similar loop to an after-school running group that Kaplan used to take part in.

Along the route, there will be water, photographers, supporters and signs, but unique to the Lisa Kaplan 5K is the on-course music. There will be live music along the route performed by several of Kaplan’s former students. The music is an homage to Kaplan’s love of playing guitar and an after-school jam club she started.

At the finish line, participants can help themselves to food from the event’s sponsors.

Runners can download free photos of themselves from the Lisa Kaplan 5K on RaceWire, where they can also check their chip-timed final results. Parking at Melican Middle School is also free and plentiful.

The 5K has averaged 374 participants over its first two years, and we want to match or beat that total this year! It’s a great weekend event for family and friends, so sign up and invite someone to go with you! Awards will be announced afterward for six age divisions, but all levels of runners and walkers are welcome!

Remembering Lisa Kaplan

Lisa Kaplan positively impacted countless adolescents in over a decade as a teacher and the funds donated to 15-40 Connection will help us teach our 3 Steps Detect education to high school and college students, and adults. Frem said she thought 15-40 Connection’s mission would have resonated with Kaplan.

“The idea of helping young people, which is what we do as teachers,” Frem said, “the idea of cancer awareness and educating people, that’s what we do for a living is educating people and empowering them. That she suffered and died from cancer… (15-40 Connection) had everything we were looking for in a nonprofit.”

Kaplan was a Central Mass. local through and through. She grew up in Westborough, Mass., attended Assumption College in Worcester and then later lived in Grafton while working in the Northborough public school system.

Lisa was known as an outgoing personality who liked to bake cakes for the other staff members and who would take her Spanish classes caroling around the school singing “Feliz Navidad” during the holidays.

“She was very energetic in her classes,” Frem said. “She just kind of put herself out there.”

Runners can expect plenty of volunteers and spectators as the Melican Middle School community comes out to remember one of its own. Come join in for a great atmosphere with music, giveaways, and because your entry fee goes toward educating others about early cancer detection!

What’s in it for you?

Much more!