City Sports Report

HOPE Week Allows New York Yankees to Give Back

Derrel Jazz Johnson Interviewing Former New York Yankees Pitcher David Cone (Photo by Herbert Delancey)
Derrel Jazz Johnson Interviewing Former New York Yankees Pitcher Mariano Rivera (Photo by Herbert Delancey)

Derrel Jazz Johnson Interviewing Former New York Yankees Pitcher Mariano Rivera (Photo by Herbert Delancey)

New York Yankees HOPE Week Recipients with Cake (Photo by Herbert Delancey)

New York Yankees HOPE Week Recipients with Cake (Photo by Herbert Delancey)

The New York Yankees kicked off their HOPE Week 2014 festivities at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum on Monday, June 16, 2014.  HOPE (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) was created six years ago by Jason Zillo and the Yankees Public Relations staff and this event represented the five-year anniversary of the initiative.  Yankees General Partner/Vice Chairperson Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal, Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman,former Yankees Mariano Rivera and David Cone, and current Yankees pitcher Ivan Nova attended the event to support the former HOPE Week honorees.

Being at the event and hearing the many speakers left an indelible mark upon me.  Some of the best stories involved Yankees Captain and shortstop Derek Jeter delivering pizza to a tour bus full of kids, Rivera becoming one of the kids at a pool party at the home of one of the children, Steinbrenner-Swindal hanging up decorations, and Jeter calling a kid to wish him good luck in his freshman year in college.

 

Come spoke about the significance of the event and the potential impact HOPE could have on sports organizations.  “It’s a watershed moment because it’s five years and everybody got to come back and tell their stories and we get progress reports on how this impacted their organizations and their lives and we see all the progress that has been made.  Each and every story has grown and gotten better and everybody has benefited from being a part of this, including more importantly, the players themselves.”  Speaking on how effective the program continues to be, Cone added “It really is the model to use for all professional sports to use an entire platform like this, as opposed to an individual event that each player does.”

 

Yankees legend Mariano Rivera talked about Jorge Grajales, a native of Panama like Rivera, who had his hands and feet amputated as an infant, who seems to inspire him.  “He’s driving.  There’s nothing that he can’t do.”  I asked Rivera about his memories from the pool party at Jorge’s house four years ago, and, with laughter, he talked about having fun running around and throwing kids in the pool.  Like Cone said, these events are also fun for the players and it certainly was for Rivera.

 

Zillo talked about obstacles that may arise, and when they do, Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal is the one to remove them.  She reflected on her work with HOPE and why it is so special.  “Every day is like Christmas to be able to give a surprise to someone and make their world better.”  With it being the day after Father’s Day, I mentioned the tradition that George Steinbrenner had of philanthropy and it continuing with the next generation.  “My father always believed that you make the world a better place but you don’t tell anybody about it.  You do it quietly and behind the scenes.  I’d like to think our foundation does that,” Steinbrenner Swindal.  The Yankees organization certainly does that.  In fact, I think the only reason members of the media like myself are invited to attend is so that the organizations like Healing the Children, Tuesday’s Children, Children’s Alopecia Project, and many others are helped by the media attention.  Otherwise, we wouldn’t know it was happening.  Somehow, I think that is the way that Mr. George Steinbrenner would want it.

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