Friday, August 22, 2014

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Mohawk Valley

Rachael Ray visits alma mater

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Albany/HV: Rachael Ray visits alma mater
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She's gone on to become a big success in both print and television, and she got her start right here in our area. Our Vince Gallagher caught up with Rachael Ray on one of her visits back home.

LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. -- At Lake George High School, a crowd filled the auditorium to see a special guest, 1986 graduate Rachael Ray. It's the tenth anniversary of her Benefit Show, and once again, it was a sold-out event - but it wasn't always like this.

"And I remember we were so excited because we sold 100 or 150 tickets or something the first year. We raised a few hundred bucks, and we were so excited."

Presented by the Lake George Alumni Association, the show featured Rachael in her two traditional activities, cooking and audience interaction

Rachael said, "The audience is peppered with your gym teacher and your cheerleading coach and the kid you went to school with."

And this being a fundraiser, it's beneficial to the school over the years. For example, there's a new media center, upgraded laptops, and student scholarships. Plus it couldn't come at a better time with all the state aid cuts.

Event organizer Gloria Gilman said, "Particularly here we're on a contingency budget, and they have a new mandate that's going through the elementary school as far a books are concerned."

And money raised here will help with supplying those books this September. Rachael has always said she's had a real quality education, and she wants that to continue for future generations.

"And I think that's what's meaningful about coming here and trying to help the high school years later and keep that quality of education and that bar raised," she said.

Food has always been a part of Rachael Ray's life. Her parents owned four restaurants, and of course she's been successful in both print and television in the industry. But even after that 30-minute meal is done, she still has something else cooking.

Rachael said, "Our children's initiative, our Yum-O organization has three tiers to it - eradicating hunger, awareness, and we do a lot of lobbying with type two diabetes and the fight of childhood obesity."

And even though she's gone far, she still knows where she's been.

"I'm appreciative where I come from, and this region is for me the most beautiful place in the world. I love coming home."

And after 10 years of benefit shows, sometimes it's the little things that matter.

Rachael said, "In a world where everyone talks in billions and hundreds of millions, you can see thousands do a lot of good work for dozens or hundreds."

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