When in doubt, do something

This adage is one that Harry Chapin used and exemplified during his short but consequential life. As I’ve lived into my 70s, four decades more than Harry got, his words resonate more than in 1981 when I learned he had died in a car accident on Long Island where he and his family lived.

Harry’s musicality and folk music became known to me at the time he left this reality for the one beyond. My community of Croton-on-Hudson, New York, was in the final preparations for the first Run Against Hunger–a 10K footrace up over the Croton Dam and winding down along the Croton River past the New York Aqueduct, into the hamlet of 6,000 residents.

My neighbor called me. He had produced some of Harry’s early records and was stunned and sad at Harry’s passing. Would we make the Run a memorial to Harry’s memory? he asked, and offered to pay for the t-shirts for the inaugural race. The Harry Chapin Memorial Run Against Hunger was born that day, with members of the Chapin family attending the first race, and 41 years later the 10K and fun run is an institution.

The point being, you never know what you might set into motion that may take root and grow in the hearts of thousands, even a whole community. In this way, the race has built a small medical facility, helped establish a farmer’s credit union, supported orphanages–all in Africa–and kept a local food bank alive and growing into one that works toward solutions to poverty.

The Harry Chapin Memorial Run Against Hunger will be run this year on October 17, Sunday, in Croton-on-Hudson coinciding with celebration of World Food Day as it has each year. If you are in the area, please go. The village is lovely, the area gorgeous, and the race inspiring. Walk the 3K or the fun run, or if you are able, run the 10K.

You never know where it might go …