PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. -- Hillside Food Outreach in Pleasantville is going to the desert to raise funds.
Steve Plake, a Hillside board member, will race 1,000 miles through the Baja desert on his motorcycle in September and is seeking donations of either a fixed amount or per mile.
The fundraiser, BKLYN 2 BAJA, will help Hillside, which feeds more than 2,300 people in Westchester. Former Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams is a major supporter of Hillside.
Plake said, "I got involved in Hillside because I know the profound and positive impact that community outreach programs can make as a very close family member was very reliant on organizations like Hillside."
While Plake acknowledges there is no connection between feeding people and racing motorcycles, he thinks this is something that will excite people and raise money.
"Racing Baja is a bit of a spectacle and gives us an excuse to get people excited, to use the media around the race and spread awareness and get support for an important organization from people who may not have otherwise gotten involved," Plake said.
Forty percent of the people Hillside feeds are children, 35 percent have cancer or a terminal illness and 20 percent are homebound or disabled.
"These people are at or below the poverty line," Plake said. "We have 350 volunteers who put food in a grocery bag. Each family gets two bags and it's a balanced diet."
Plake said he realized how many people needed food after delivering food.
"These people are in really bad situations," Plake said. "I wanted to give back and help people."
Plake rides his bike everywhere and said he has received a lot of his attention for his race in Baja.
"It's humbling to see how many people care," Plake said. "This race is very intense."
Hillside is hoping to raise money before the holidays, when the need is greatest. Having someone like Williams involved is a big boost.
"Bernie Williams is extremely involved," Plake said. "He's in touch with us several times a week. It's very motivating to know someone who could be doing so many things is so involved."
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