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Race Across America benefits Durham charities

Posted June 11, 2010
Updated June 12, 2010

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— A team of Durham cyclists hopes that its eight-day, 3,000-mile trek across the country will encourage people to volunteer and give to charities back home.

Henry Kaestner and his team are participating in Race Across America to raise money and awareness for the nonprofit he founded, DurhamCares.

The race kicks off Saturday morning in Oceanside, Calif. (Track the team's progress online.)

So far, the cyclists are halfway toward their goal of raising $100,000 and three-quarters of the way to soliciting 5,000 volunteer hours for the charities with which DurhamCares works.

DurhamCares matches volunteers' skills and passions with charities that can use them.

"There are 1,100 charities in Durham, and sometimes it's difficult for us to understand which are the best ones," Kaestner said.

DurhamCares does the research for prospective volunteers and matches them with 18 charities that have set specific goals.

DurhamCares matches charities, volunteers DurhamCares matches charities, volunteers

"How many kids are they going to place in mentoring relationships? How many folks are they going to put in homeless shelters and take care of with work skills and things like that?" Kaestner said.

Volunteer Sean Radke said he always thought he would like to mentor a young person. DurhamCares matched him with Big Brothers and Big Sisters.

"They do a good job of assessing who the person is and what group would match them best," Radke said.

Radke became a big brother to Zion McMillan, who recently graduated from fifth grade at W.G. Pearson Elementary School.

"He's a very cool guy, but he's actually very bright, a good student, very athletic," Radke said.

Zion reciprocated his mentor's feelings. "He's a great guy. He's a cool guy, too," Zion said.

Radke said he is grateful for DurhamCares' help in introducing him to his new little brother.

"I'm looking forward to seeing him become the man he's made to be," he said.

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