Hot Chocolate Run raises record $632,000

  • The Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Northampton. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO /SAM MASINTER

  • Participants gather on Crafts Avenue for The Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage on Sunday in Northampton. PHOTO BY SAM MASINTER

  • The Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Northampton. PHOTO BY SAM MASINTER

  • The Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage on Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Northampton. PHOTO BY SAM MASINTER

Staff Writer
Published: 12/8/2019 6:22:48 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Sunday saw another record-setting Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage, with more than $632,000 raised to support the domestic violence charity.

“It’s a huge gift,” said Natasha Yakovlev, president of the board of directors of Safe Passage.

The total raised in the 16th annual Hot Chocolate Run is a little more than 2018’s record-setting total of $628,000, which in turn beat the previous year’s record of $611,000.

After the $632,000 number was announced, donations continued to come in. As of Sunday night, nearly $635,000 was reported raised on the run’s website.

Yakovlev said the money from the the run is a big part of Safe Passage’s budget and that much of its programming receives funding from it.

“It has definitely allowed us to become a stable agency,” she said.

The top individual fundraiser this year was Tara Brewster, who raised $11,320, while the top fundraising team was WEBS Yarn, which raised $19,670.

Yakovlev said that more than 6,000 participants either walked or ran in the event this year. Two of those participants were Sarah Buttenwieser and her 11-year-old daughter, Saskia Baskin.

“So fun,” said Buttenwieser, who estimates that she has run or walked in more than 10 Hot Chocolate Runs. “We certainly have a great mug collection to prove it.”

She also noted the cold temperatures of this year’s run: “It took about a mile for my toes to warm up.”

Buttenwieser raised money for the run as the co-captain of the Pure Barre team, with the business also sponsoring the run. Buttenwieser raised $735, while her daughter raised $1,165. In total, the team brought in $3,760.

Buttenwieser, who also serves on the capital campaign committee for Safe Passage, said the run helps keep people safe and reinforces the message of believing survivors. She  also said that it normalizes the experience of dealing with domestic violence and encourages people to support those going through it.

Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, D-Northampton, normally runs in the Hot Chocolate Run with her daughter, Kala Sabadosa. However, this year, because Kala was going to be playing violin at the holiday celebration at the Elks Lodge, they decided to walk.

“We’re never walking again,” said Sabadosa, noting that both she and her daughter felt that it was too cold.

Sabadosa referred to the run as “the Northampton social gathering of the year.”

“The city really comes together around a cause,” she said. “Everybody looks forward to it.”

Sabadosa said her favorite year running in the Hot Chocolate Run was when she was coaching Girls on the Run and got to experience it with her team of third, fourth and fifth graders.

“You see so many kids running it,” she said.

Sabadosa, who grew up in Westfield, said she knows what it is like to grow up in a community without an organization like Safe Passage.

“We’re so lucky in this district,” she said. “We know exactly where you can turn.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at

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