HORNET HUSTLE 5K Race Director Maddy O’Connor proudly presented a check for $2,800 from the race proceeds of the 2024 event to the North Reading Fire Department. From left: Capt. Eric Pepper, firefighter Adam Salemme, Chief Don Stats, Maddy O’Connor, and firefighters Nathan DiMeco and Nick Carney. (NRFD Courtesy Photo)




NORTH READING — North Reading firefighters will soon enjoy a new spring in their step courtesy of fitness equipment purchased using a donation from a local charity run, the Hornet Hustle 5K.

Started in 2016, the Hornet Hustle 5K is organized by Fit Revolution, a North Reading gym owned by Michelle O’Connor. The 2024 leg of the race was organized by Race Director and O’Connor’s daughter, Maddy, a junior at the Pingree School.

The race returned on April 6 after being disrupted in 2020 due to COVID-19 and has to date raised more than $20,000 for North Reading community groups.

“I’ve always had two missions: to give back to the community, and to teach people how to work out more effectively,” said O’Connor, a former accountant turned fitness instructor and entrepreneur. “So, it was a no-brainer that this year we give back to the Fire Department and help keep the crew in good working order.”

A total of 133 runners registered in the 2024 race, with runner Jason Paige of North Reading clocking in with the quickest time at 19 minutes, 51 seconds.

“Firefighting is a tough job. You have to be of both sound body and mind,” North Reading Fire Chief Don Stats said. “The new fitness equipment will increase the preparedness of our firefighters to meet challenges and keep the community safe.”

Presenting the $2,800 check to the North Reading Fire Department was Race Director Maddy O’Connor. Maddy led the return of the race after learning during a school assignment that the department was seeking building renovations.

After reaching out to Town Hall and obtaining the green light for a road race, Maddy worked with her mother Michelle and with Fit Revolution Marketing Director Jenn Pagliuca to make the return a reality.

“I’m so proud of Maddy for setting a goal to bring back the Hornet Hustle 5K. She learned so much about how to run a race, but the most important part is realizing how you have the power to rally your community to make a difference,” her mom said.

Sponsoring the 2024 Hornet Hustle 5K were the following organizations: MBC Mortgage, Dunkin’ Donuts (Angiolillo Management Group), Lady Di’s Barber Shop, The Farrelly Group, Fitzgerald Physical Therapy Associates, Ryer’s Country Store, Boston Hockey Skills, and Pennant Networks.

At Monday night’s Select Board meeting, the members voted unanimously to accept the $2,800 donation on behalf of the North Reading Fire Department and expressed their gratitude to Fit Revolution, Maddy and Michelle O’Connor and all the event sponsors for their generosity.