CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – More than 30 years after singer-songwriter Harry Chapin died in a car crash on the Long Island Expressway, his music still resonates.

WCBS 880’s Sean Adams On The Story

His legacy of giving lives on, too.

“He died in ’81. But the five years before that, he was doing half of his concerts to raise money for hunger and causes he believed in,” Harry’s brother Tom told WCBS 880 reporter Sean Adams. “It’s a country that can feed itself ten times over and yet a quarter of our children are growing up in poverty and if you’re poor, you have trouble eating, and he thought that was unconscionable.”

“So he started this organization called World Hunger Year [which is now called WhyHunger], and, uh, when he died in ’81, a number of people who were his fans and believed in the things he believed in, which is this is a world that can feed itself, a few months after Harry died, a bunch of concerned citizens up in Croton said, ‘Let’s do a Harry Chapin run against hunger.’ Well guess what, it’s been happening ever since,” Tom said. “Folks there who were connected with Harry’s music and his message and they decided to do a local thing and it’s been astonishingly successful.”

Stories from Main Street - Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

Stories from Main Street – Photo: Evan Bindelglass / WCBS 880

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The event includes a 1-mile fun run, a 5k (3.1 mile) walk, and a 10k (6.2 mile) race. More than 1,000 people come from Long Island, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and beyond to participate.

“It’s all ages. There are, like, little kids to seniors,” Tom said.

This year’s Harry Chapin Run Against Hunger in Croton-on-Hudson is on Sunday, October 21, and continues Harry’s good works.

LINKS: Sign Up For The Run | WhyHunger

“The reality, Sean, is that now we’re at 40 percent increase in demands at food banks now because of the recession. 40 percent. It’s a tough time for a lot of folks,” Tom said. “So, imagine if you’re a parent and you’re under the poverty level and you have to pay the rent, you have to pay the phone, you have to get to work, and what suffers a lot of times is food.”

The run will help many.

“The Food Bank for Westchester, Caring for the Homeless of Peekskill, Hillside, Food Outreach in Pleasantville, Cortlandt Emergency Food Banks in Croton, the Croton Caring Committee. And also some of it goes to WhyHunger and some goes to an orphanage in Mozambique. That to me is one of the astonishing things about my brother’s legacy, is how many people remember him not because of the music even – ‘Cats and the Cradle’ and ‘Taxi’ and those great songs – which are still played. But they think of him because of these organizations he started – WhyHunger, Long Island Cares – and, uh, how many people they’ve helped,” Tom said.

“The songs and the institutions that he started inspired people and other people have kept up and they’re the real heroes in my mind, including the folks who have kept this Croton run alive and over the years, it’s raised over $300,000 for local food banks,” Tom added.

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