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McParland staging fun run in honor of beloved teacher
Ben Theiss hands out running pins after students finish their run Wednesday. The McParland science and math teacher heads the McParland Running Club and is helping with the Nov. 24 memorial fun run. - photo by HIME ROMERO


• WHAT: Heller E. Lipsett Memorial 5K/1-mile Community Run/Walk.
• WHEN: Sunday, Nov. 24. One-mile starts at 8 a.m. Five-kilometer, 8:30 a.m.
• WHERE: Start/finish line at McParland Elementary School: 1601 Northgate Drive in Manteca.
• REGISTRATION: One-mile, $15. Five-kilometer, $25.
• CONTACT: For more information, contact coordinator Ben Theiss at

Heller Lipsett’s death was sudden and tragic, shaking her family at home and in the classroom.

Lipsett, a longtime instructor with the Manteca Unified School District, died of a brain aneurism in June.

Just months after her funeral services, Lipsett’s relatives and colleagues have come together, creating an event they hope will memorialize the beloved elementary school teacher.

The inaugural Heller E. Lipsett Memorial Run is Sunday, Nov. 24, and will feature a 5-kilometer and 1-mile run that will begin and end at McParland Elementary School. The 5K will take runners past Chadwick Square and Primavera and Doxey parks.

“She was highly regarded. She would do anything for anybody,” said Ben Theiss, a McParland instructor and running club advisor.

As of press time, approximately 120 participants have registered for the event. When its all said and done, Theiss expects about 300 people will toe the two starting lines.

All proceeds will benefit the school’s Community Club, an organization that raises money to augment an ever-shrinking budget. Specifically, the funds are used for field trips, supplies and to assist students in need of financial assistance with school-related activities.

That Lipsett’s name graces this event is no surprise. She was a  member of the McParland faculty and taught several grade levels during an 11-year career at the Northgate Drive campus.

She was scheduled to teach seventh grade this fall, Theiss said, when tragedy struck.

“I didn’t know her personally,” said seventh grader Jadyn Snaer, 12, “but when you hear others talk about her, you feel like you know her. She was a pretty important person.”

Well-liked, too.

Seventh grader Dawson Mix, 12, never had Lipsett as a teacher, but knows others who have. “They said she was nice.”

Lipsett’s legacy lives on thanks in large part to Theiss, an experienced race coordinator and member of the Community Club.

Theiss felt a memorial run would fill two voids on campus: 1) preserving the memory of Lipsett; and 2) boosting support for the Community Club.

“When she died, it was a great loss. I thought what a great way to remember her by,” said Theiss, who has helped organize the popular Neon Night and Recon obstacle runs. “Not having her here wasn’t going to work out. I couldn’t let her be forgotten.”

His first step was to reach out to the family. He made contact with Lipsett’s daughter, Kate Lipsett Allen, as well as her brother and sister, Mark Ewbanks and Kim Reynolds.

All three gave Theiss their blessing to proceed. Ewbanks and Reynolds even contributed $500.

Support has poured in from all corners of the community. Race-day volunteers include the Community Emergency Response Team, of which Lipsett was a member.

“The support has been great,” Theiss said. “I’ve had a lot of people step up, family and people she worked with.”