Rachael Ray, alumna of Lake George, N.Y., cooked, entertained and gave back to over 400 admiring fans, mentors, lifelong friends and family in her high school auditorium on April 29 for her 14th annual cooking show to raise money for the school and town she calls home.
At the start of the show, the Lake George Rotary recognized her for her humanitarian efforts and for her impact on her hometown.
Ray’s high school guidance counselor, David Eagle, knew she would be something special. “She was always a hard worker, always a serious worker, but with that bubbly personality, you knew she would impact the world,” he said.
Ray was presented with the Paul Harris National Fellowship Award, named an honorary Rotarian; and she received a letter from Rotary International President K.R. “Ravi” Ravindran with a donation to fight polio in her name.
Tears came to Ray’s eyes when Milan Jackson, governor of the Rotary district said, “Service above self is exactly what is thought of when your name, Rachael Ray, is mentioned in your home town.”
“Money I never thought I would earn in my lifetime, I am able to give back,” she said. And now she has.
Rachael Ray earned her success and recognition in 2001 with her cooking show “30 Minute Meals” on the Food Network. Last year Ray celebrated 10 years on her own unscripted 180 episodes-a-year television show, the “Rachael Ray Show,” that tapes in New York City.
In 2006, Ray launched a non-profit organization called Yum-O! The mission of Yum-O! helps to empower kids and their families to develop healthy relationships with food and cooking. They achieve that by teaching families to cook, feeding hungry kids, and funding cooking education.
Ray is a member of the president’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition.
Ray’s dedication to “cook, feed, fund” is a true success story in giving back. In her home state, she played an integral part in free school lunches for all middle school kids in NYC! Through Yum-O!’s donations to partners at Feeding America, focused on their Backpack program, they were able to provide a total of 186,196 meals to children struggling with food insecurity.
My personal favorite is her dog and cat food line, Nutrish. Ray’s personal proceeds from sales of Nutrish have gone toward food, medical supplies and treatments for animals in need.
I came away from the evening in Lake George thinking, “Wow! This is one busy, focused and determined lady.” I am sure I speak for many of the people that were there and the readers of this article when I say, “Thank you for all that you give back and the difference in the lives you make everyday.”
Deanna McGinness, Rutland