The Yankees announced that 2014 HOPE Week will take place from June 16-20th this year. There will be a special ceremony honoring Quantum Leap Farm, a Florida-based organization that serves individuals with mental and physical disabilities by providing therapeutic equestrian programs, prior to tomorrow’s night Grapefruit League game in Tampa. Full details for this summer’s HOPE Week are not yet available, but here is everything you need to know about tomorrow’s ceremony.
The Yankees have announced that the fifth annual HOPE Week will take place from July 8-12th this summer. “Each day over the five-day stretch, the Yankees will reach out to an individual, family or organization worthy of recognition and support, surprising honorees with a day celebrating their accomplishments,” said the release. “Outreach will often take place away from Yankee Stadium, allowing the Yankees to personally connect with individuals in settings that highlight their greatest successes.”
The various minor league affiliates held their own versions of HOPE Week last season, which is something that will continue this season. Good on the Yankees, HOPE Week is always fantastic and well done.
The Yankees have announced that for the first time, HOPE Week will expand to their minor league affiliates this season. The Triple-A Empire State, Double-A Trenton, High-A Tampa, Low-A Charleston, and Short Season Staten Island clubs will host events “designed to bring to light remarkable stories intended to inspire individuals into action in their own communities” throughout the summer.
“As an organization, we have seen firsthand the positive impact HOPE Week has made in our community,” said Brian Cashman. “We’ve found that giving back is contagious. One of the goals of the initiative has been to inspire others to follow in our footsteps, and I’m proud that our affiliates are expanding this tradition by joining our efforts.”
The High-A Tampa club will host HOPE Week from June 4-8th and will be the first affiliate to do so this year. Click here for a look back at past HOPE Week stories. Great job on the part of the Yankees, hopefully we see some more expansion in the future.
One of my favorite weeks of the year. The Yankees have announced their plans for the 2011 edition of HOPE Week, which will take place Monday through Friday of next week. All of the details can be found in the press release. Good on the Yankees for keeping this going, but hopefully the weather cools off before then.
A few morning links for your pleasure:
Growing up in New England there aren’t many baseball phenoms I get to follow. While I now pay extra attention to Jeff Locke (wow does that Nate McLouth trade look bad), I hadn’t heard much about Jeff Allison in a while. Allison was a big story in New England in 2003 when drafted but it was downhill soon thereafter. Allison unfortunately went down the Josh Hamilton path and had serious problems with substance abuse. Here’s a recent story on Allison, and it’s good to see that he has been sober for almost 4 years now. He may never make it to the majors, but he’s come a long way since nearly dying twice of overdoses. If the baseball story never pans out hopefully the human being side will.
There have been approximately 22,000 articles written this week on Johnny Damon potentially returning to the Red Sox, and then Johnny Damon refusing to return to the Red Sox. Some people (idiots) ripped him and called him a coward, while others looked a little deeper. Lee Jenkins had the best take that I read on it, and while Damon didn’t leave New York under the best of circumstances, there was never the animosity that was prevalent when he left Boston. For a guy who has played for 5 teams (so far) in his career, at the end of it I think he’ll consider himself a Yankee.
We all know Stephen Strasburg is heading for surgery and baseball fans everywhere are saddened by it. He simply is a talent that fans could rally around because he is truly a special to watch. Here former phenom Mark Prior addressed the latest news on Strasburg from someone who has clearly been there. Interesting note in the article is that Prior was recently clocked at 92 MPH. Prior, once a Yankee draft pick is still trying to come back and while I would never rely on him, I’d love to see the Yankees take a flyer on him. He is, after all, still just 29 years old.
While I’m not a big Rick Reilly fan he did a good job of telling the story of Jane Lang and her dog Clipper’s recent visit to Yankee stadium. Not much to add to this but to drive home the fact that Hope Week has quickly become one of the best things about the Yankees season. Some of the stories really make you reflect on how good you have things, and this is no different.
On Monday, the Yankees announced to their Twitter followers that the next five days would constitute HOPE Week. Called a week-long program that brings to light five remarkable stories intended to inspire individuals into action in their own communities, HOPE Week is about Helping Others Persevere & Excel, and when Vinny Milano saw the Twitter announcement, he immediately knew he had to get involved.
Better known to the Yankee world as Bald Vinny, leader of the Bleacher Creature, Milano fired back a reply to the Yankees. He offered up the his services and those of the Creature loyalists in the right field bleacher. A few days later on Thursday afternoon long after the Yankees had downed the Tigers and the stadium had emptied out, Milano and his friends found themselves back in their customary place conducting a different kind of roll call.
With the help of the Yankees’ staff, Bald Vinny and his crew chanted out the names of the children from The Beautiful People as these kids with special needs played a one-inning game with the Yankees. “The kids were turning around. The parents were turning around,” Vinny said to me. “People were coming up to us to tell us how cool it was.”
For Milano and the Creature, the act was a simple one that meant a lot to these children. “It just seemed like a perfect fit,” he said. “They were playing ball in our house and that’s how we do it at home.”
The Beautiful People is an organization based out of Orange County, New York, that works with children ages 5 to 21. They try to give these kids with special needs — such as one with Spina Bifida or another who needs an oxygen tank at all — the opportunity to play sports just as anyone else would. They started with baseball after founder Peter Ladka got the idea while having a catcher. “I’d been spending some time thinking about how my family and I could give back to the community,” Ladka said. “I just got the idea that there have got to be families out there with kids that don’t get to enjoy that opportunity that I was experiencing.”
Yesterday afternoon, the Yankees joined these children on the field to cheer them on. Each of the players held a sign, and the kids enjoyed an afternoon of play on the most famous baseball field around. “There are very small magical moments,” Ladka said to MLB.com. “It’s not the big things. You see a kid learn how to throw a baseball, or a kid … actually hitting the ball out of the air. It’s little miracles that happen and they’re amazing. Talking about them now, I get emotional, and I’ve seen hundreds.”
For me, sitting at the stadium for the past two games, the moment that struck me came in the fourth inning yesterday when Paul Olden turned over the PA duties to Daniel Fratto. The 16-year-old looks far younger than his years, and he suffers from a severe immune deficiency syndrome that requires him to breathe with the assistance of an oxygen tank. He can’t play in the league and instead serves as The Beautiful People’s public address announcer. Without the nerves one would expect and with the calm of a seasoned veteran, he announced the bottom of the fourth to a crowd of 48,000 Yankee fans, and he was perfect. He could have done the whole game and could very well have a career behind the mic if his health allows him to. “He was outstanding,” Joe Girardi said after the game.
The Beautiful People are only one of the many groups enjoying the Yanks’ HOPE Week. On Tuesday afternoon, Joe Girardi, Tino Martinez and Joba Chamberlain accompanied Jane Lang, a blind but very devoted Yankee fan, from her home in New Jersey to the stadium where she attends numerous games a season. Lang, born without sight, did not know that home plate was shaped like a home until Girardi explained it to her, and yet, she attends 30 games a season with her guide dog Clipper. She sees the game through crowd reactions, the sounds of the game and John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman. On Wednesday, the club honored Mohamed Kamara, an 18-year-old survivor of the civil war in Sierra Leone who supports his family from abroad and will be attending college in the fall. Meeting him and hearing his story, said Curtis Granderson, was “humbling.” Today, two sisters who were homeless until they were 16 yet never wavered in their commitment to academics are getting the full Yankee treatment.
For the Yankee players and the organization, this isn’t a one-off week. The team is devoted to this effort, and those who see it in action says this true commitment shines through. “One thing that amazed me was that a lot of the other players participated,” Jay Gordon who joined the Bleacher Creature yesterday said. “The three guys who were on the field the longest were Andy Pettitte, who was there the whole time, Burnett who I don’t think ever left, and Joba who was basically all over the place.”
Even as HOPE Week fades, the Yanks’ good deeds remain throughout the year. It truly transcends baseball rivalries and shows what happens when our heroes who play a game for a living devote their energies toward giving back.