, Salem, MA

November 6, 2012

Letter: Annette's Climb reaches a milestone

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

In the spirit of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I wanted to point out that this is also the 10th anniversary of Annette’s Climb Inc., an all-volunteer, 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to raising awareness about domestic violence and raising funds to help put an end to the cycle of abuse. In 2002, Annette Soares, a Danvers High Class of 1980 graduate, was murdered by her boyfriend. What began as a memorial hike by 18 friends and family members in 2003 has grown into an uplifting and inspiring celebration of life, involving hundreds of participants annually.

Our event is held each year in the spring and involves a hike to Tuckerman Ravine on Mount Washington, a metaphor for the uphill battle that victims endure each day. This year, ACI passed a very significant milestone — $300,000 in total money raised! Over the past 10 years, Annette’s Climb has by far been the largest third-party fundraiser in support of Healing Abuse Working for Change, a regional domestic violence agency located in Salem. ACI has donated more than $200,000 to HAWC since our relationship began in 2002. Over the past five years, ACI has also donated $26,600 to the Women in Transition Program at North Shore Community College, a curriculum intended to provide women with the tools they need to become economically self-supporting.

I would like to thank the many corporate sponsors, volunteer board members (past and present), and, most importantly, the thousands of participants and donors who have all contributed to the success of our organization and our event. The ultimate winners, of course, have been the beneficiaries of our donations, people whose lives have been so positively impacted by the good work done by HAWC and WIT. So here is a heartfelt thank you to our corporate sponsors: Atlantic Semiconductor, Baystate Federal Charitable Foundation, Bose, Coldwell Banker (Topsfield-Georgetown office), Danvers Touchdown Club, Danversbank, EMS, Four 66, Mercer, New England Running Co., O’Connor Law Firm, Petrocelli Marketing, Seven A’s Locksmith, Trailheads, Turfer, Viselli Santoro Salon and Zwicker Press. I would also like to thank all of my fellow board members for their tireless fundraising and event planning efforts: former board members Sandi Hickey, Christine Smerczynski and Scott Jamieson and current board members Dawn Purcell and Liz Wigon.

If it is true that “everything you know, you learned by the first grade,” then it stands to reason that bullying and abusive behavior may be part of that same learning process. Schools everywhere are incorporating anti-bullying programs in an effort to stem this growing tide of bad behavior, and there has been more media coverage of late. Of course, for years, there has been media coverage. In the weekly paper’s police blotters, “officer responds to domestic dispute” has very often been code for “person gets beaten up.” If this altercation occurred in a downtown eatery, it might be front-page news. Sadly, these assaults mostly stay out of sight and, therefore, out of mind.

So let’s all try to be part of the solution and help make a difference in the lives of both adult and child victims of abuse. If you would like to get involved, the 2013 Annette’s Climb to Tuckerman Ravine will be held April 26 through 28.

Go to for details.

Widge Merrill

Board of directors,

past president

Annette’s Climb Inc.