07/16/09 6:00 PM ET
Yanks begin HOPE Week program
Outstanding individuals, groups to be recognized by Bombers
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
HOPE (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) Week has been designed by the Yankees to bring to light five remarkable stories, which are intended to inspire individuals into action in their own communities.
Each day from Monday through July 24, all 25 Yankees players will divide into groups and will be enlisted to reach out to an individual, family or organization worthy of recognition and support.
While all daily celebrations will culminate at Yankee Stadium, outreach is also being planned to take place away from the ballpark, allowing the Yankees to personally connect with individuals while bringing attention to causes and organizations.
According to the Yankees, HOPE Week will consist of the following stories and events:
Monday: A newly married couple saddened by the sight of abandoned schoolyards in their New York City neighborhood decided to become mentors to at-risk young people in their area. Their work over the years has had a profound effect on the neighborhood as children who began in their program have become mentors themselves. Players will surprise the neighborhood children by dropping in for lunch at the couple's household. Players will bring food and sporting goods, speak with everyone there and invite the couple and the children to the Stadium for the game that evening.
Tuesday: A child with cerebral palsy who is confined to a wheelchair and unable to communicate through conventional speech became an inspiration to his Little League teammates by dressing in uniform, sitting in the dugout with them and giving high-fives as necessary. This season, the team won the league championship. Additionally, his father is the inventor of revolutionary equipment that allows non-verbal individuals to communicate in new ways. Yankees players will meet the child and his best friends for lunch at a local eatery. Afterwards, everyone will go to the local Little League field to meet the child's teammates and other children with cerebral palsy. Yankees players will then give a talk about baseball and sportsmanship before holding a brief baseball skills clinic. The child and his teammates will attend the Yankees game that evening.
Wednesday: An Army veteran in upstate New York has lost use of his arms and legs due to ALS. His wife is a pillar of their local community. At a party with his family and friends this weekend, he will be shown a videotaped message from a Yankees player, inviting him to fulfill his dream of watching a game at Yankee Stadium with his young son. Included in the invitation are his wife and son. What none of them know is that Yankees players will have an added surprise for them when they arrive at the Stadium. They will receive a private Stadium tour from Yankees players following the game.
Thursday, July 23: Xeroderma Pigmentosum is a rare (approximately 150 cases in the U.S. and 1,000 worldwide) genetic disorder that prevents sufferers from going outdoors in daylight. UV light, including florescent lighting, causes them severe burns and eventually skin and eye cancer. Campers (and their families) from a special camp that caters to their unique needs will travel to Yankee Stadium, arriving after sunset to watch the remainder of the evening's game from a party suite. Immediately after the last pitch, the field will be transformed into a massive open-air carnival for the families, who will be joined by Yankees players and their families. The fun will continue until approximately 4 a.m. ET, when the XP families must re-board their buses in order to make it back to camp before daybreak.
Friday, July 24: With the help of a major not-for-profit human services network, two young men with developmental disabilities have integrated into the workforce at a company in New York City. Yankees players will surprise them at work and take part in their day, helping them to complete their daily assignments. A lunchtime party with the visiting players will celebrate the two individuals as well as the company that had the courage to hire them. At the conclusion of the party, the two young men will be transported to Yankee Stadium, where they will return the favor by assisting Yankees staff with their day-job expertise, before taking in the evening's game.
The Yankees have encouraged those inspired by the HOPE Week stories to look to New York City's NYC Service (www.nyc.gov/service) and President Barack Obama's United We Serve (www.serve.gov), which promote and find outlets for volunteerism.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.