March 15, 2022

For the last 13 years, New Jersey native and current Watertown resident Ashley Lagas has cheered for Boston Marathon runners as a spectator. This April, she will be on the other side of the ropes running and raising money for The New England Center for Children (NECC).   

“Marathon Monday is such an exciting and inspiring day in New England,” shared Lagas. “I have so many memories cheering on the marathon runners as a spectator. However, this year, I am looking forward to the experiences and challenges of marathon training and ultimately supporting the students at The New England Center for Children.” 

Lagas adopted running as her “COVID hobby” during the spring of 2020 and was inspired to push herself to run a marathon after the Boston Marathon in October 2021. However, she wanted to make her miles count. A middle school science teacher and science curriculum specialist for Holliston Public Schools and a fitness instructor at DanceFIT Studio in Natick, Lagas picked a charity that aligned with her beliefs.  

“As a science teacher, I strive to make learning accessible for all learners,” she said. “Science is hands-on, fun, and exciting, but most importantly it is accessible for everyone. There are so many amazing charity organizations that accept applications for the Boston Marathon, but I knew I wanted to support a small charity team with big goals to support children’s education. I believe all children deserve access to a quality education that meets their needs as a learner, and I’m thrilled to be fundraising for a renowned and internationally recognized organization like NECC.” 

NECC’s mission of providing enrichment and education to children with autism so that they can lead fuller lives was particularly compelling to Lagas. She volunteers with Embrace Kulture, a nonprofit organization that supports children in Uganda with moderate to severe cognitive and/or developmental disabilities such as autism, Down’s syndrome, and cerebral palsy. Before the pandemic, Lagas had the opportunity to visit and meet with the staff and students at one of the organization’s projects, the Amaanyi Center, which works to empower youth with special needs to achieve their potential.  

“Both locations of The New England Center for Children, in Southborough and Abu Dhabi, remind me of the work that is happening at the Amaanyi Center in Uganda, and I am thrilled to fundraise for a local organization with a similar mission,” Lagas said.  

While her ultimate objectives are to reach her fundraising goal and finish the race, she is looking forward to the entire experience, from training to the day of the race.  “I’m looking forward to going on a running tour of the towns that have become home over the past 15 years,” Lagas said. “On race day, I’m excited to see staff and students from NECC, and students, families, and friends from Holliston along the course, my DanceFIT family at mile 11, my friends and family at Heartbreak Hill, and the feeling of finishing the Boston Marathon when crossing the finish line.” 

Lagas will be holding a number of fundraising events leading up to the race, including filling March Madness “Squares” for the NCAA Basketball Tournament (squares are $20 and can be venmo’ed to @AshleyLagas); teaching a (virtual) donation-based yoga class on Wednesday, March 23 at 6 p.m. through DanceFIT Studio’s “virtual studio” (sign up here); and is hosting a “spring cleaning clothing swap” for women and children’s clothing on Sunday, April 3 (proceeds benefit her marathon fundraiser). 

To support Lagas, visit her fundraising page here