The Yankees have just completed their 10th straight year of hosting HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere and Excel). This past week from Monday June 17th to Friday June 21st, the Yankees used their award-winning program to highlight incredible stories. As a result, these stories inspire individuals to take action within their own communities.
On Monday, the Yankees hosted an alumni reunion at Yankee Stadium. Meanwhile, from Tuesday-Friday, the Yankees brought out different players each day to reach out to a new individual, family, or organization for recognition of their amazing accomplishments. In addition, the Yankees often travel to these individuals, families, and organizations around the city in order to personally connect and celebrate these programs.
The reunion hosted on Monday invited current Yankee players, Yankee alumni, and former HOPE Week honorees in a field day style event at Yankee Stadium. Honorees include, but are not limited to Daniel’s Music Foundation (2011 HOPE Week honoree) performing the National Anthem, Megan Ajello (2011 HOPE Week honoree), who is a cerebral palsy patient from Staten Island, and Chris Singleton (2015 HOPE Week Honoree), who is the current Director of Community Outreach for the Yankee affiliate, the Single-A Charleston RiverDogs. Yankee players included in Monday’s celebration were Brett Gardner, CC Sabathia, and Gary Sanchez. Also, Yankee coaches Josh Bard, Carlos Mendoza, Phil Nevin, P.J. Pilittere, Marcus Thamas, and Reggie Willits were included in the ceremony.
The honorees participated in plenty of fun events throughout the day: running the bases, Wiffle Ball game in the outfield, picnic games, carnival games, magicians, balloon artists, and other entertainers. Furthermore, nearly 200 fans took a tour of Monument Park, visit the New York Yankees Museum Presented by Bank of America, watch batting practice, and take photos of the Yankees World Series trophy.
Additional highlights showcase General Manager (GM) of the Yankees, Brian Cashman, addressing the honorees, Gary Sanchez catching the first pitch from Christ Singleton, and Martha Gold-Dvoryadkin (2016 HOPE Week honoree) giving a young individual a chance to run the bases by rolling him across in his wheelchair on the field.
Runaway Heroes lead HOPE Week on Tuesday. The organization collaborates with the most popular fashion brands to display runaway shows for pediatric cancer fighters and survivors. The founder, Rachel Goodman, established this organization with the intention to boost confidence within cancer patients. Furthermore, the funds raised from these events are donated to childhood cancer research.
The location of the event was at the historic Kleinfeld bridal store in Manhattan. Brian Cashman, Aroldis Chapman, Didi Gregorius, Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, Domingo German, and Kendrys Morales joined Rachel Goodman to surprise childhood cancer patients as well as their families for a fashion show.
The Yankee players walked children down the runway for their big day! Highlights include Masahiro Tanaka and a patient flexing their muscles, Brian Cashman dancing with a kid on the stage, and Luis Severino carrying a kid down the runway.
On Wednesday the Yankees honored Olmedo Renteria “The Great Olmedini”. For the past three decades, Renteria performed his magic routine throughout the NYC subways. The blind Ecuadorian musician always dressed up in tuxedos. Also, Renteria would bring his assistants to each train car, a rabbit in his hat, as well as other tricks. Additionally, the travelers have been entertained daily both in English and in Spanish. Yankee players James Paxton, Tommy Kahnle, Chad Green, Luis Cessa, Nestor Cortes Jr., and David Hale surprised Renteria at his East Harlem apartment.
The players’ assisted The Great Olmedini for a magic trick on the 4-train to Yankee Stadium. Afterwards, The Great Olmedini displayed his magic to a kindergarten class at P.S. 73 in the Bronx. To celebrate his efforts, the Yankees made a donation in Olmedo Renteria’s name to the Society of American Magicians’ Magic Endownment Fund to help benefit programs for young magicians. Some of the best parts of the day displayed The Great Olmedini performing for the children at P.S. 73 in a room field with inflatable baseball paraphernalia, throwing out the first pitch, and showcasing his signature tuxedo, red vest, and top hat to everyone’s enjoyment.
The Yankees celebrated Furniture Sharehouse for Thursday’s event. Furniture Sharehouse is a organization that collects and distributes furniture to clients moving out of homeless shelters, escaping domestic violence, young adults aging out of foster care, victims of fires and other natural disasters, and families struggling financially. The Yankees featured Luke Voit, Zack Britton, Gleyber Torres, J.A. Happ, Gio Urshela, Jonathan Holder, Austin Romine, as well as bullpen coach Mike Harkey.
The Yankees surprised two local NY families and Furniture Sharehouse volunteers at their warehouse in Westchester County. The initiative for today was to help these families select the furniture. Afterwards, everyone had a celebratory lunch together at the facility. The outreach initiative featured the Yankees showing off their strength by lifting heavy furniture, and spending time with the families on their big day.
The organization AdaptAbility was chosen to host Friday’s event. Adaptability aims to help mobility challenged children experience the thrill of riding a bicycle. The founder, Sandra Alfonzo, who runs marathons and cycles in her free time, was inspired one day by seeing a mobility-challenged child longing for a chance to ride a bicycle. The Brooklyn native received funding from local schools and districts to fund the non-profit project.
In addition, the bikes were crated by the Canadian Company Freedom Concepts to build bikes for those with special needs. Their hard work paid off in January 2018 as 15-year-old Diego Munoz, a cerebral palsy patient, biked for the first time. Since then, Alfonzo has helped seven other families, and currently has orders for five more. The Yankees honored Alfonzo, and her organization by bringing along Yankees Manager Aaron Boone, as well as players DJ LeMahieu, Cameron Maybin, Aaron Hicks, and fellow Brooklyn native Adam Ottavino to help out.
The Yankees have all credit and all rights reserved to the photos used as well as described in this article