Students, Faculty Turn Out for “Hot Chocolate Run”


Williston students participating in the “Hot Chocolate Run.”

Students and faculty on Williston’s campus literally ran out of the Williston “bubble” to help a greater cause and have some fun while doing it.

On Sunday, December 8, the sixteenth annual Hot Chocolate Run took place in downtown Northampton. It was a balmy eight degrees when the walk began at 9:00 a.m. and 12 degrees when the road race began at 10:15.

Despite the cold air, the crowded street had upbeat music and over 6,000 smiling faces. Of the 6,167 people there, nine Williston cross country runners and numerous faculty members attended.

The Hot Chocolate Run is a non-profit event that supports Safe Passage; an organization helping women and children who have lived through domestic violence. Domestic violence is a universal issue with about 3 in 10 women experiencing violence, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that in Massachusetts alone, 1,795 victims a day use domestic violence programs.

Laura Penney-Edwards, the Director of Community Engagement for Safe Passage, spoke about the history of the 5k.

“The Hot Chocolate Run was really dreamed up by two really strong supporters of our organization: Jen Dieringer and John Frey. It was a way for us to bridge the gap in funding needs for our organization,” she said.

This year, the event raised $631,254, which will be used to keep 24-hour hotlines open and provide attorneys for survivors going to court.

Penney-Edwards further commented on the community component and how it really shapes the event.

“We believe it takes a community to end domestic violence. The Hot Chocolate Run is just another physical demonstration of how the community supports our work,” she remarked. “One of the things people show up for is to see that community support. It is an opportunity for people to come together in a festive way, but ultimately show support for the community and our organization.”

Martha McCullagh, both a parent of Williston graduates and a member of the math department, has attended 14 of the 16 Hot Chocolate Runs and couldn’t agree more with Laura’s analysis of the community aspect.

“I love being able to go out for a run with that many people around. It’s really invigorating to have so many people supporting each other,” she explained.

McCullagh further commented on her support for the event because of its ties to Safe Passage.

“My sister was a prosecutor for domestic violence, so I’m very aware of domestic violence. I know the outstanding and unfortunately, necessary work they do, so I really want to support Safe Passage,” she mentioned.

Senior Oscar DeFrancis enjoys both the community and festive aspect of the event, which keeps him coming back every year.

“I’ve been going for probably over six years, at least since seventh grade,” he said. “It’s a really fun community event. Everyone is there to have fun. It [was] fun to see all the people in their costumes this year, I even wore a costume!”

Abigail Touhey ’22, also agrees that the event is extremely fun and that the mugs given out add a nice touch to the event.