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Bergstrom-Lynch and Todd support victims of domestic violence

Published on December 06, 2023

Bergstrom-Lynch and Todd support victims of domestic violence

Two Eastern Connecticut State University faculty members recently participated in an annual fundraiser for Safe Passage, an organization helping domestic violence victims recover. Cara Bergstrom-Lynch, professor of sociology, and Emily Todd, dean of Arts and Sciences, took part in the Hot Chocolate Run for Safe Passage in Northampton, MA, on Dec. 3.

Runners and walkers got to enjoy hot chocolate after the event, including Bergstrom-Lynch's daughter, Maia.

This year marks the 20th annual Hot Chocolate Run and the 10th year since Bergstrom-Lynch began participating in the event. She was moved to begin participating by the loss of Eastern student Alyssiah Wiley, the victim of a homicide by an ex-boyfriend, in 2013.

In addition to honoring Wiley, Bergstrom-Lynch honors all who donate to her campaign each year by wearing a white ribbon with the names of all her donors. She does this “so (my donors) are with me in spirit at the event,” she said.

Bergstrom-Lynch aimed to raise an additional $2,500 this year. She was able to accomplish that and then some, raising $3,250. As of the fundraising deadline on Friday, Bergstrom-Lynch was the event’s 10th-highest donor. Bergstrom-Lynch has raised $24,250 for Safe Passage since her first Hot Chocolate Run. She accepts each donation “in Alyssiah’s honor,” she said.

The event offers participatory options for people of all athletic abilities. “There's a 3K walk, a 5K fun run and a 5k race, all starting at different times,” said Todd, who participated in the 3K walk. Bergstrom-Lynch and her daughter, Maia, also participated in the 3K walk. Each participant received a mug after crossing the finish line, filling the mugs with homemade hot chocolate.

The Hot Chocolate Run is a hometown event for Emily Todd, dean of Arts and Sciences.

Todd, a Northampton resident, looks forward to the Hot Chocolate Run every year as a hometown event. For her, highlights include seeing many participants wearing costumes and hearing the Western Massachusetts-based Expandable Brass Band perform on a street corner near the starting line.

Todd admires Bergstrom-Lynch and the many Eastern faculty members who support her participation every year to honor Wiley. “It is so meaningful to me that she participates every year and so many people come together to donate,” she said.

Though the weather was not ideal this year, the event was just as memorable: “I loved that the rain didn't dampen anyone's spirits, and the hot chocolate tasted particularly good on a cold, rainy day,” said Todd.

Safe Passage’s mission is to help domestic violence victims recover and return to a safe position in their lives. Additional resources are available to victims of relationship violence, including Eastern’s Sexual Assault and Interpersonal Violence Response Team (SAIV-RT) and the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Eastern’s SAIV-RT provides “trauma-informed response, advocacy, prevention, intervention and support to restore safety to students who experience interpersonal violence.” The Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence looks to end domestic violence in Connecticut through education and advocacy.

Written by Noel Teter