NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The 18th annual Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage brought the community together and sparked valuable community conversations.

Downtown Northampton held their annual fun run to address the impact and prevention of domestic violence and relationship abuse. “The hot chocolate run has been something that you know something that is a huge community event and it really defines this communities commitment to eradicating domestic violence in our community,” said Raquel Manzanares an event organizer for the Northampton run.

The participants at the race can run or walk, but most importantly show their support to Safe Passage. Marianne Winters an event organizer was very eager for today’s turn out, “its legendary here in Northampton its one of the big events that people think about when they want to get together with the community its a walk a fundraiser it’s a fun run and a road race all wrapped up in a community event.”

The event has many goals which includes supporting survivors and showing them that their community is stands with them and spreads awareness on an issue that impacts millions of people across the nation.

“This event is really really great it makes people show their visible support for their neighbor for their friend for their mother for their sister for their brother you know an acknowledgement that domestic violence is real and it happens and we have an obligation to talk about it to help it diminish,” said Manzanares.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence says that on average nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. Which equates to 10 million women and 1 in 9 men.

Starting a community dialogue is vital, “Having these conversations are the only way that we are going to eradicate domestic violence and if we don’t talk about it remains hidden and it remains hidden it grows in darkness. We need to bring the light and acknowledge that its a big issue,” said Manzanares.

Safe Passage provides the community free resources such as counseling, advocacy and assistance for survivors. The funds from this run directly support these community efforts.

Runners of all ages came for the hot chocolate while also being able to raise funds for all survivors.