Archive for category H.O.P.E. Week Initiative

NY Yankees H.O.P.E Week initiative

Posted by on Thursday, 17 March, 2016
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Earlier today, Yankees Manager Joe Girardi visited patients at Shriners Hospitals for Children in Tampa.

Shriners 1 – Joe Girardi and Shawn play tee ball in an activity area at the hospital.

Shriners 2-4 – Joe Girardi joins Josiah in his hospital room and later gives him a signed baseball.

Shriners 5 – Joe Girardi gives Charlie a high five.


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H.O.P.E. Week 2013

Posted by on Saturday, 23 March, 2013

March 21, 2013
New York Yankees Spring Training
George M. Steinbrenner Field
Tampa, Florida

By: Rocky Julich

HOPE Week 2013 will return for the fifth consecutive season at Yankee Stadium in New York from July 8 through July 12. The Initiative is a unique week-long community program that brings to light five remarkable stories intended to inspire individuals into action in their own communities.

During the 2012 HOPE events, it marked the beginning of a new tradition for the New York Yankees as all of the organization’s minor league clubs held their own HOPE Weeks, allowing the initiative to reach five new cities.
Hope Week is rooted in the fundamental belief that acts of goodwill provide hope and encouragement to more than just the recipient of the gesture.

Helping Others to Persevere & Excel can be compared to the colors of the rainbow. HOPE is driven by the outreach of the rainbow like individuals, families and organizations.

During Spring Training, the New York Yankees kicked off HOPE Week prior to the Yankees game against the Minnesota Twins. The Yankees were proud to host the HOPE ceremony with the Twins in attendance, as the Minnesota organization continues to embrace the HOPE Week concept with their third annual HOPE Week planned for June 10-16 in Minnesota.

During the pregame ceremony, in the spirit of the H.O.P.E. Initiative, the Yankees recognized 73-year old Ken Guill, founder of the non-profit organization “Missions Made Possible”. The organization provides lifeguard and emergency relief flights for those in need of transportation due to health problems and medical needs.

Ken Guill is a look-a-like to Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger, pilot hero of the Hudson River. Pilot Guill along with his crew of “Missions Made Possible” Vice President Joe Kemmer, Co-Pilot Chris Meyer and Flight Nurse extraordinaire Vicky Smith were the honorees of the HOPE Initiative at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

The H.O.P.E. honorees were presented with a $5,000.00 check to aid “Missions Made Possible” in their medical missions.

One Airplane. “Missions Made Possible” is able to transport non-ambulatory individuals using specialized FAA-approved stretchers which are secured inside the airplane.

Since its founding during 2005, the “Missions Made Possible” team has transported over 90 severely ill individuals; ranging from newborns to the elderly, to their respective hospitals, doctors and clinics in cities across the country.

“Missions Made Possible” has flown from home base Orlando, Florida to as far away as Pittsburgh, Little Rock and Tulsa to pick up passengers who are then flown to other cities for urgent care. The work of “Missions Made Possible” is a lifeline for individuals whose families cannot afford the costs of arranging critical medical treatment far from their home.

A nurse is always present on flights to ensure the safety and health of patients being transported. Vicky Smith, nurse retired after 20 years of service from the Florida State Penal System Department of Corrections was honored for her work in helping others persevere. She considers the service she volunteers to provide rewarding “by the act of completing the missions made possible by however it takes to help the patient in need, sometimes under not the most favorable weather conditions”.

We asked Nurse Smith if she ever flew with a recognized celebrity during one of the missions, to which she replied “every patient is a celebrity”. She continued “and today, the New York Yankees honored us as if were celebrities”.

The group made comments how “the thrill and the whole experience of being with the Yankees as wonderful”. They all stood at Home Plate while being honored, listening to the Yankees announcer during the presentation and later remained on the field as each met and spoke with favorite players and posed for pictures. They received autographed balls. Nurse Smith held her autographed baseball and indicated to me that while a lifelong Yankees fan her favorite autograph belonged to Jennifer “Jenny” Steinbrenner.

Fans can learn more about the initiative and nominate inspirational individuals for HOPE Week recognition by visiting the official website at

You can make contributions to the non-profit organization “Missions Made Possible” by visiting the official website at

Stay tuned.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional baseball Leagues or its clubs.

H.O.P.E. WEEK INITIATIVE – June 8, 2012

Posted by on Sunday, 24 June, 2012

June 8, 2012

By Raquel Julich
Foreign Radio
Special to Gulf Coast Yankees
Tampa, Florida


St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital is well known through the Southeast United States as a leader in Pediatric Heart and Cancer Care. With 80 Pediatric Physician Specialists representing 25 medical and surgical disciplines, the board certified staff offers the care St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital is known for, Family Focused Care.

Families always come first at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. Parents have the confidence of knowing that the specialized pediatric services offered are further strengthened by St. Joseph’s Hospital full-service medical center, including the 24-hour Steinbrenner Emergency/Trauma Center for Children.

After a week of rain storms in Tampa, on Friday, June 8th, the sun came out to play for the children from St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. The children were visiting the New York Yankees Himes Complex during the H.O.P.E. Week Initiative, for a morning of baseball fun with the players of the Gulf Coast League.

All four children and their parents benefiting from the Family Focused Care at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital and on this sunny morning one of St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital benefactors was providing a little something extra.

To start, Ron Dock took the boys in the group on a mini visit of the players’ clubhouse.

Afterwards, while the children and family members watched from behind a protective fence, a Gulf Coast League player had throwing practice to outfielder, Adam Silva (Australia).

New York Yankees pitcher, Michael Pineda (Dominican Republic) and Tampa Yankees outfielder Slade Heathcott greeted the children on the field and posed for pictures.

Pitchers Jairo Heredia (Dominican Republic), Steve Evarts, Alex Smith, Yunior Peroza (Venezuela), Graham Stoneburner and catcher Austin Romine all stopped by to say hello. The children were interested in the “resistance vest” worn by one of the pitchers.

Then, under the supervision of Alex Cotto and Ron Dock, the kids; Abel, Daniela, Nestor and Nicholas enjoyed a healthy game of kick ball with the players from the Gulf Coast League. A couple of the players ran the bases for the children as the parents watched, cheered and coached from the nearby foul lines. Ron Dock reminded the children when it was time for water. Every so often, you could hear an individual “how are you doing?” from the mothers.

The H.O.P.E. Week Initiative had the full support of Felix M. Lopez, Jr., Executive Vice President/Chief International Officer.

While the children were at play, members of the Himes Complex management who ensured the success of the first Tampa H.O.P.E. Week Initiative stopped by to see the game; Mark Newman, Senior Vice President, Baseball Operations, Pat Roessler, Director Player Development, who made it possible for the players to make it to all the events by scheduling their workouts early enough so that the players could get their work in, and, Tim Lentych, Head Athletic Trainer Player Development, who scheduled all the treatments and therapy for the injured players so they could join in the events.

The “coach” for the day, Ron Dock called the game. When it was over, after many high fives Dock announced them all winners and the children walked off the field laughing and chatting as they headed to the players’ resting area.

New York Yankees pitcher, Joba Chamberlain dressed in traditional Yankees pinstripes, after completing his pitching routine, under the watchful eye of Pitching Instructor Greg Pavlick and Billy Connors, Vice President Player Personnel, joined the children in conversation, picture taking and autographs signing.

After a brief questions and answers period where “what is a grand slam?” was discussed, Ron Dock took the children and the parents through a tour of the Yankees Offices. One of the children, 10 year old Nicholas named the players as he walked past the legendary Yankees pictures on the walls.

The Children received H.O.P.E. baseball caps, pins and a baseball, as it came time to say good-by.

H.O.P.E Helping Others Persevere and Excel

The New York Yankees
The Gulf Coast Yankees
The Tampa Yankees
The Staten Island Yankees

H.O.P.E. WEEK INITIATIVE – June 7, 2012

Posted by on Sunday, 24 June, 2012

June 7, 2012

By Raquel Julich
Foreign Radio
Special to Gulf Coast Yankees
Tampa, Florida


The Children’s Home story begins in 1892, in a small frontier village in Florida, when as recorded by history, Miss Carrie Hammerly began tending to orphaned and abandoned children.

In 1922, the ELKS donated $100,000 towards the restoration of the aging Home.

During 2012, The Children’s Home celebrates 120 years of history in Tampa, Florida.

The Flagpole: The Flagpole was constructed in 1922, it is 80 years old. On it is a plaque in honor of Marty Lawrence, a young man who was an orphan and who was killed in the line of duty in Vietnam. Because The Children’s Home was the only family he knew, he was honored with the plaque.

Situated on an 88 acre, Academy like setting, The Children’s Home features six cottages, an administration building, a playground and an in campus school. The cottages were named after the prominent philanthropist families of the era in Tampa; Constantino Garcia Lopez Cottage, Conn Cottage, Davis Cottage, Lowry Cottage, Lykes Cottage and the MacFarland Cottage.

With the number of children entering foster care on the rise, The Children’s Home has launched a number of prevention and intervention programs with the aim to strength families in the community. The Children’s Home serves nearly 13,000 children and adults each year in the Tampa Bay Area with programs ranging from residential treatment, to school readiness and vocational education efforts to kinship care.

Kinship Care: Families headed by grandparents sharing their homes with their grandchildren when the children are displaced from their parents because of abuse or neglect. More than 4.8 million children live with grandparents. About 830,000 of these grandparents are age 60 or older.

The following words on a plaque greet all visitors at the entrance to the William MacInnes Activities Center at The Children’s Home:

“Lives of great men (women) all remind us, we can make our lives sublime, and departing leave behind us, footprints on the sands of time……….” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

There are many indications that the “Boss” of the New York Yankees, George M. Steinbrenner III, left his footprints at The Children’s Home.

On the fourth day of the Yankees H.O.P.E. Week Initiative, Alex Cotto presented the players of the Gulf Coast League to The Children’s Home. Cotto advised that Mark Newman, Senior Vice President, Baseball Operations, believes “getting our Yankees players started in community service should start early, at the Rookie level”.

The community service team included; catcher, Jackson Valera (Venezuela), infielder, Jake Anderson, outfielder, Exicardo Cayones (Venezuela), pitchers, Jose Campos (Venezuela), Giovanny Gallegos (Mexico), Dawerd Cruz (Dominican Republic), Conor Mullee, Brandon Braboy, and the only ambidextrous pitcher in professional baseball, Patrick Venditti, on rehab. from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Because of the severe rain storms in Tampa, The Children’s Home, Recreation Coordinator, Chris Boulanger teamed the youths and the GCL players in the MAC Activities Center, where they spent time shooting hoops. The players also enjoyed playing video games with the youths. It was the final day of school for the children, so, afterwards, they all enjoyed a pizza party.

In Kind Donations & Volunteer Recruitment Manager, Rachelle Gyurke, provided an overview of the Children’s Home. We were introduced to Shirley Lowry, Learning Center and Vocational Specialist, who offered information of the “Virtual School”. It is a place where the children go for tutoring, computer usage and art. The Learning Center has a small library and a special area dedicated for reading books.

For others in the Yankees group, a visit was allowed into the cottage dedicated to “Constantino Garcia Lopez”. We observed how ten children per cottage live in a homelike environment; bedrooms, recreation room, kitchen, dining room, bathrooms and laundry room. It held a relaxed atmosphere.

Among the things the children miss the most, “Not being able to bring friends home from school”, and “Playing on a Little League Team”. (Over 80% in The Children’s Home have never participated in organized sports).

In the cottages, with the assistance of an adult “Primary”, the children learn how to take care of themselves from personal care, to room cleanliness and laundry. Besides schooling, the children receive therapy on a daily basis with the HOPE to return them to their families or foster care.

One child’s story:
His name is Chris. He is 10 years old and stands, perhaps 3” tall. He is in the 3rd grade, but, “is working hard to pass on to the 5th grade”. We asked him a couple of questions;
Which is your favorite team? “The Tampa Yankees”.
The Tampa Yankees, how come? “My grandmother used to take me to the games, but she died”.
Do you have a favorite football team? “The Buccaneers”.
What are you going to be when you grow up? “Cool”.
Cool? Why? “So that I can wear nice shirts and pants”.
What else do you want to be when you grow up? “A coach” and he added “I’m really fast”.
If you could have anything you want right now, what would it be? “A pair of shoes without holes”.
What do you miss the most? “I miss my Mom”.
Why are you here? “Because I hurt my brother”.
I ended the conversation with the child, but not before he said he liked the way I talked.
I enjoyed his spirit.

H.O.P.E. Helping Others Persevere and Excel – The Children’s Home

H.O.P.E. WEEK INITIATIVE – June 6, 2012

Posted by on Sunday, 24 June, 2012

June 6, 2012

By Raquel Julich
Foreign Radio
Special to Gulf Coast Yankees
Tampa, Florida


Shriners Hospitals for Children is a health care system of twenty-two hospitals dedicated to improving the lives of children by providing pediatric specialty care, innovative research and outstanding teaching programs for medical professionals. All care and services are provided regardless of the patient’s ability to pay.

Shriners Hospitals for Children provides treatment for a full range of congenital and acquired orthopedic conditions. Some of the most commonly treated conditions are clubfoot, limb deficiencies, deformities and discrepancies, scoliosis (curvature of the spine), osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease), and orthopaedic problems related to spinal bifida, cerebral palsy, dwarfism and muscular dystrophy.

On Wednesday, June 6th, the third day of H.O.P.E. Week in Tampa, Alex Cotto, Ron Dock and the Yankees Gulf Coast players paid an early morning visit to Shriners Hospitals for Children.

From the heavy box of goody bags that the players took turns in carrying, it was obvious that they had raided the “room of giveaways” at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

The group of players included; pitching prospects Pat Venditte, Cesar Vargas from Mexico, and Steve Evarts, also, infielders, Abiatal Avelino and Jorge Mateo.

On arrival at Shriners, the Yankees group was greeted by Tara Deering, Childlife Specialist. She briefed the players with information of the children the players would interact with.

The players’ first introduction was a five year old child with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Christian was all smiles as he received the goody bag from Ron Dock and was thrilled at finding a Yankees cap. The family was from New York. One of the players asked Christian how he was doing and the Mother coached the youngster to say, “I’m going to keep on winning”. “We’re winners and winners don’t lose”.

The visits continued, guided by Tara Deering, the players approached a room dedicated as the “Wade Boggs Room”. The patient’s mother seated at the bedside did not want the players to enter and greet the youngster. Nonetheless, Ron Dock handed a nurse the bag with the Yankees items. As Ron Dock walked away, the father of the boy could be heard softly saying “thank you”. The players continued along the corridor of the POPS Unit (Pediatric Orthotic and Prosthetic Services).

From observing the manner in which Alex Cotto and Ron Dock guided their players, it was obvious that the involvement of these Yankees men in the community is not a new thing. Their knowing the importance of the goody bags while observing each child’s reaction and recognizing that conversation with the children should be kept light. A New York Yankees cap is a magical thing.

Eventually, the players were led into the most whimsical of rooms, The Fish Bowl. A great room in the round, as if under the sea with colorful fish and ocean creatures. The Fish Bowl is used for daily children’s activities, they were told, the most special of them “The Monster Mash Bash”, held yearly at Halloween.

The players visited a 16 year old girl, injured when riding on the back of her father’s motorcycle. Along the way, they were asked to cheer a child fearing surgery on this day. The GCL pitcher Pat Venditte encouraged the youngster with conversation about his own surgery.

When the question was asked if Shriners Hospitals for Children treated children from other countries, the players were introduce to a child from Panama, Alberto, suffering with “Paralisis Celebral Espatica”. The youth was encased in braces and casts. You can imagine the family’s happiness at meeting and taking pictures with the Yankees, the team of Mariano Rivera. The players from Mexico and the Dominican Republic spoke in Spanish to Alberto and the family.

They met Kala, afflicted with “Posteria Spinal Fisure” and Christian from Peru, a patient suffering with Osteogenesis Imperfecta.

The visits ended with a walk into a room of a brother and sister; an eight year old brother, the patient, with the six year old sister in bed by his side, to quote their Mother “making him happy”.

During the course of their Player Development, the Yankees Gulf Coast League players had already received an early introduction to the terminology of baseball injuries and the variety of treatments. On this day, every player in the group was quieted by the enormity of the afflictions of the children they visited and the courage the children exhibited through their smiles.

H.O.P.E. – as presented to and by the players of the Yankees Gulf Coast League.

H.O.P.E. WEEK INITIATIVE June 4-5, 2012

Posted by on Sunday, 24 June, 2012

June 4-5, 2012

By Raquel Julich
Foreign Radio
Special to Gulf Coast Yankees
Tampa, Florida



On March 23, 2012, during Spring Training at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida, the New York Yankees held the Kick-Off for their Fourth Annual H.O.P.E. Week Initiative.

Introduced in 2009, by Jason Zillo, Director, Communications and Media Relations, now in its fourth year, the Yankees H.O.P.E. Week Initiative (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) is rooted in the fundamental belief that acts of goodwill provide hope and encouragement to more than just the recipient.

In the spirit of the Initiative, the New York Yankees honored 17-year old Tampa Catholic High School baseball player Owen Sarwatka, who as a sophomore, in 2010, was inspired to create “Everyone Can Play”, a nonprofit, volunteer-run, baseball skills clinic for children with physical and/or intellectual disabilities.

During May, the Yankees announced the expansion of HOPE Week. Throughout the 2012 season, five New York Yankees minor leagues affiliates will host their own community events.

Initiated on June 4 – 8, the Yankees Gulf Coast League players from the Himes Baseball Complex stepped-up-to-the-plate, as they participated in The H.O.P.E. Week Initiative.

Alex Cotto, Assistant Director of International Operations and Ron Dock, Intervention Coordinator laid the Initiative footprints for H.O.P.E., as they scheduled the players to visit and entertain youths from five different organizations.

On June 4th, the Gulf Coast League players visited “Warriors for Autism” in Oldsmar, Florida. Before the event Alex Cotto remarked “many of our players had never interacted with autistic children, so we did not know what to expect”. Afterwards, Cotto was pleased with his players’ participation “the players commented about the unbelievable experience of being able to play ball with such special youths”.

During the second day of the H.O.P.E. Initiative, on June 5th, the players drove to the Police Athletic League (PAL) of Tampa.

An overview of the PAL involvement in the community was provided by retired Tampa Police Officer Phil Ray, Executive Director, Police Athletic League of Tampa. PAL was started by Police Officer, Corporal Larry Siegel. In 1956 PAL was “just him and his van” and a few officers he could count on, working at crime prevention. Siegel was fighting juvenile crime and violence through the use of education, academically and athletically, based around “sports resources”. Larry Siegel continued in this endeavor until his death in 2010.

Today, the Tampa PAL children’s services include; van pickup from several Hillsborough County Elementary Schools for daily after school care, healthy snacks, assistance with school study and a variety of sporting programs. PAL also operates a supervised summer care program targeting “at risk” inner city children.

At the Police Athletic League, Alex Cotto and Ron Dock took turns speaking to the youths about the message in H.O.P.E. The subject of drugs and bullying was discussed with questions and answers. There was a message for the girls that “baseball is not just for boys but that there are plenty of job opportunities for girls within Major League Baseball”.

Yankees prospects from the Dominican Republic; Leonel Vinas, Daniel Lopez, and Jose Rosario, Adam Silva (Australia) and Jake Anderson took turns fielding questions from the approximately sixty-five boys and girls, ages 5-12, in attendance.
The questions ranged from baseball related, to the player’s personal lives. “Did they have children?” “Do you have a brother?” “Did you ever see a Kangaroo?” It was a question for Adam Silva who hails from Victoria, Australia. The children were obviously intrigued by meeting someone from Australia.

During snack time the young Yankees players each sat at a picnic table filled with kids. Childish conversation and laughter was the baseball order of the day. The children took turns trying on the baseball players’ gloves.
The children were curious about the age of the players and asked how long it would take them to reach the Major Leagues. They asked about their sports shoes, running speed, and hitting home runs. They talked about championships. They wanted to hear about the World Series Trophy and asked if every player received one.

After the questions and answers sessions the Yankees players and children teamed at the PAL field to “play a little catch”. After all the children took their swings, the players and children took a group photo, followed by many friendly good-by. A tender moment was observed on departure, as one child returned running to a Yankees player for a final hug.

At its core, HOPE Week is about people helping people. The one thing everybody has – no matter their background or financial situation – is time. By involving every player, manager and coach, along with front office staff, during the celebration of HOPE Week, the Yankees organization is sending the message that everyone can give of themselves to make their community a better place.

H.O.P.E. Week – The Yankees Gulf Coast League management and players initiated the footprints.