This year, Westchester’s Harry Chapin Run Against Hunger celebrated its 40th anniversary amid fear that the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic would force the event to be cancelled entirely. Yet despite all of this uncertainty, event organizers and Westchester residents came together to hold a virtual run in which hundreds of people, including many from the Croton-Harmon school district, participated. Runners and walkers had the option to complete either a one mile fun run, a 5k or a 10k from the safety of their chosen location, although some chose to run along the originally planned course. They were also encouraged to post their results on the Run Against Hunger website, with some runners including pictures of themselves during the run.
A wide variety of local businesses and institutions have always contributed to the fundraising, and the Croton-Harmon Union Free School District is proud to have been among these contributors for the past twelve years. As is tradition, this year Pierre Van Cortlandt Middle School (PVC) students wore Run Against HUnger t-shirts each Friday leading up to the event to generate excitement and awareness. Race Directors Jud Ramaker and Mike Grayeb, who usually comes to the school to present to students, faculty and staff in person, shared a video presentation to encourage participation in the Run.
There are approximately 200,000 food insecure families in Westchester County, with accounting for 30 percent. With the economic impacts of the pandemic creating even more challenges for families, PVC staff and faculty also brainstormed ways to contribute to the Run. What they came up with was ‘Funds Against Hunger’ to show the love they share for the community and students. They collected donations from faculty and staff which were then matched by an anonymous donor. When Jud and Mike came to PVC, along with long-time supporters Karen and Sam Colombo, they were surprised with a check for $3,300.
Jud and Mike’s reactions were immediate and heartwarming. Mike was seen placing a hand over his heart, while Jud was moved to tears as he accepted the check. “This is a huge gift that says so much about PVC,” said Jud. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Christmas came on October 21st this year!”
“Harry Chapin’s motto was ‘when in doubt, do something,’” Mike added. “We’re now in the 40th year of this race and the work still isn’t done. We are so incredibly grateful for the support that we get from you, and from this community.”
PVC health teacher Jessica Butts had the honor of presenting the check on October 21st, which is also National Unity Day.
“It meant so much to me as the lucky spokesperson who presented [the check] and doing it on Unity Day allowed us to show how much our school means to us and how we are united as a