Runners take part in 2021 TCS NYC Marathon to raise money in support of restaurants

NEW YORK (WABC) -- For James Kent, the chef and owner of Crown Shy, running isn't just the way to get back in shape, it's also therapeutic.

"I'm in my head thinking about recipes, food, making our food better, all of these things you're trying to process when you're in the middle of a crazy environment which is a restaurant," Kent said.

Kent's restaurant is surviving the coronavirus pandemic, but many haven't fared so well, nor have restaurant workers.

So, Kent is running the 2021 TCS New York City Marathon to support ROAR which stands for Restaurants Organizing, Advocating, and Rebuilding.

"I want to raise money because that goes back to our industry," Kent said.

Andrea Strong is a former food writer who is now the executive director of ROAR and she is also running this year's race.

"We really take care of the people who take care of you when you come out to dinner," Strong said.

ROAR raised $3 million in its first year and hopes to raise $5 million in its second year with $100,000 of that coming from its participation in the marathon.

"It feels so good to know every step I take is hopefully putting money in the ROAR bank account," Strong said.

ROAR has distributed 6,500 grants to struggling restaurant workers and vaccinated 50,000 people on its mobile bus, including restaurant workers.

It's also offering free therapy, financial literacy programs, and is advocating for pay equity.

Strong said these initiatives are why she's decided to run her first marathon since 1999.

"It's just very meaningful to be staring down those 26.2 miles. I'm much slower, but it looks like I will finish within the day so that's encouraging," Strong said.

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