H.O.P.E. Week 2013

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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 www.hopeweek.com

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

Stay tuned.

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

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