Borough pair organizes 5K for Sandy Hook

NAUGATUCK — Naugatuck residents Katie Blake and Matt Marcella are no strangers to running in 5Ks. Now the pair is running one.

Blake, 30, and Marcella, 32, are organizing the Sandy Hook Run for the Families, a 5K to benefit the Sandy Hook School Support Fund. On Dec. 14, 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot and killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, including 20 children, before killing himself as police arrived on the scene.

The night after the shooting, Blake sent a message to Marcella asking how to set up a 5K. The pair was looking for a way to help families in Sandy Hook and having run in benefit races, such as The GE 5K Petit Family Foundation Road Race, felt organizing their own race was a good idea.

Marcella set up a group on Facebook for the race, which has nearly 11,000 members, and the pair turned to the Hartford Marathon Foundation for help. The foundation agreed to help for no charge.

“We are runners and thought a lot of people would be interested in a 5K to support Newtown,” said Blake, in a statement. “We were overwhelmed by the positive response and are happy to have turned the event over to the Hartford Marathon Foundation to organize so thousands can join us to honor Newtown.”

Beth Shluger, founder of the Hartford Marathon Foundation, said the foundation is honored to help.

“Here in Connecticut and around the world, we are all looking for ways to show our support and somehow make a positive contribution,” said Shluger, in a statement. “We’ve seen how family run/walk events can truly motivate a great sense of camaraderie and we’re honored to produce this event to help everyone show their support for the families of Sandy Hook, the first responders and the entire community of Newtown.”

The 5K run/walk is scheduled for March 23 in downtown Hartford. The event will begin at 10 a.m. with a Kids Fun Run for children ages 2 to 11. The 5K will begin after the Kids Run. Following the race a tribute will be held to honor first responders.

Anyone who can’t make the race can register as a “virtual runner” and run a 5K on their own.

The 5K has received an overwhelming response. Registration opened the first weekend of January and within 24 hours the number of racers registered approached 1,000, Blake said.

The response has been so great that the event was moved from its original location of Western Connecticut State University to downtown Danbury then to Hartford.

Marcella said the response has been global as well.

“People as far away as Japan have sign up for the virtual run,” he said.

Registration is $25 for adults through Feb. 28 and $30 after. Students ages 18 to 22 pay $20 until Feb. 28 and $25 after. Registration for first responders is $20 until Feb. 28 and $25 after. Registration is $10 for children ages 5 to 17 and for the Kids Fun Run.

All of the registration fees will go toward The Sandy Hook School Support Fund administered by the United Way of Western Connecticut in partnership with Newtown Savings Bank.

To register or for more information, visit www.HartfordMarathon.com. Race details can also be found at www.facebook.com/hmfevents.

Donations are also being accepted at www.crowdrise.com/SandyHookRun.