WESTFORD — The nonprofit Strides for Sotelo held its first 5k memorial run in honor of Emily Sotelo, a member of Westford Academy’s Class of 2021.
Michelle Sotelo, sister of Emily Sotelo, organized the 5k as a way to “hold on to the memories” she shared with her sister.
“I want[ed] it to be something…to celebrate what we shared in common as the two active people in our life, and it’s how I stayed close to her.” Michelle Sotelo said. “This was something we could always go back to.”
With no prior experience of organizing a 5k, Michelle Sotelo asked Ashley Smith, a German teacher at WA, and her friend Chandra Thay for help. Together they mapped out the trail, found sponsors, and designed the website themselves.
“Although I don’t have any prior experience putting on a race like this, I’m always looking for ways to get involved with Westford Academy and just the Westford community in general. And I mean, how can you say no to Michelle? … She asked me and it was a no brainer,” Smith said.
Westford residents and WA students alike attended in support of Michelle Sotelo and her family.
“My family was really touched by the story of Emily [Sotelo]. It’s a great cause and it’s a win-win you get to run a race and support this great family,” Srivas Arun, Westford Academy student said.
Smith added, “It means a lot [to have people show up]. It says a lot about Westford Academy as a school and Westford as a town that so many people wanted to come out and support Michelle and her idea and help bring it to life.”
All profits from the event go toward a scholarship in Emily Sotelo’s name. Any excess will be given to the New Hampshire Search and Rescue Team and Dream Diné, a Navajo reservation the Sotelo sisters previously worked at.
The event was held on June 11. To donate to or learn more about the Emily M. Sotelo Safety and Persistence Charitable Foundation visit this page.