Personal Best: From the plate to an open hand

A walk around AT&T Park led Cristina Solorio to a small Dominican Republic town.

After being awarded two round-trip airline tickets for being the top individual fundraiser at last year’s inaugural Plate to Plate 5K Run/Walk, Solorio took the advice of Giants rookie Eugenio Velez and visited a small, impoverished town close to where the infielder-outfielder was raised.

Embracing the charitable theme of the event — sponsored by the Giants and benefiting Project Open Hand — combined with her love for the game, Solorio redeemed her airline tickets, purchased boxes of baseballs, stuffed the balls in her luggage and headed to Boca Chica to hand them out to the town’s grateful youngsters.

“Cristina epitomizes what we had hoped to accomplish with this event,” said Jared Scherer, Project Open Hand’s director of special events. “We are creating an awareness and reaching an entirely new demographic of supporters in the community.”

There are bound to be more stories like Solorio’s after the event takes place today for a second time. Participants can either walk or run the five-kilometer course, which ends by crossing the same home plate the Giants do at AT&T Park. The first 3,000 finishers receive a ticket to today’s 1:05 p.m. Giants-San Diego Padres game.

“I’m a runner and it’s easy to be enthusiastic,” Solorio said. “Project Open Hand is a great organization. How can you argue with giving food to people? A lot of people are familiar with the organization. I always get a great response; it is very well-known and well-liked.”

More than 2,300 participants crossed home plate at the inaugural event. Project Open Hand provides “meals with love” in San Francisco and Alameda counties to those suffering from HIV or AIDS, as well as to seniors and others who are home-bound and critically ill.

Solorio has been working hard to beat the $5,207 that she raised last year.

For the Giants, it is another way of giving back to a community that has ardently supported the team, especially since moving into its waterfront park.

“[We have] 100 percent participation,” said Shana Daum, the Giants’ director of public affairs and community relations. “It is expected that every person who puts on a Giants uniform be active in the community.”

Plate to Plate 5K

WHAT: Walk or run around McCovey Cove and finish by crossing home plate at AT&T Park in this benefit for Project Open Hand; the first 3,000 finishers receive a ticket to today’s Giants-San Diego Padres game.

WHEN: 9 a.m. today

WHERE: Starts across from AT&T Park, across the Lefty O’Doul Bridge
PRICE: 13 and older, $39; 12 and under, $29

INFO: www.sfgiants.com

Giants in the community

Some other events the Giants have set up until the end of the baseball season:

Today: Junior Giants Day

Sept. 6: Orlando Cepeda statue dedication, Fiesta Gigante and Giants community sports memorabilia auction

Sept. 7: Strike Out Violence Day

Sept. 24: Willie Mays Tribute Wall dedication

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