NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Thousands of runners are gathering Sunday for the 19th annual Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage. The event is held each year to raise money and awareness for domestic violence and relationship abuse support.

“Its just such fun time with the hot chocolate a great cause that they’re raising money for so we thought we would come out and support the cause,” Tony Sorcinelli from West Springfield told 22News.

Safe Passage provides emergency shelter in a confidential location for the safety of people trying to escape domestic violence alongside a comprehensive suite of support programs to help support victims, survivors and their families. Their mission is to end domestic violence and give survivors the care they need to carry on.

“You help support everything that happens at safe passage. Its this unrestricted money that we can use to buy toys for our children’s program or support survivors with first month’s rent, things like that. It helps us start stuff, it helps us do extra stuff, it helps us actually get resources into the hands of families,” said Marianne Winters, Executive Director of Safe Passage.

Now the sheer number of participants in today’s event really is a cause for celebration. This stream behind me the third race of the day and runners have been coming through at this steady clip for almost five minutes. Almost 6,000 people registered to participate Sunday. Speaking with organizers they said the secret sauce for that participation is this wonderful community.

“Its a symbol that this community that cares. Communities that care the data is showing can actually become safer from domestic violence,” said Winters.

Winters told 22News that 19 years ago when they hosted their very first hot chocolate run people made the cocoa at home and brought it downtown, and they raised $6,000. This year before the first race even left the finish line they had raised more than $791,000.
An incredible, life-saving effort by all involved.