In fact, somebody once said,
“The true measure of an individual is how he treats a person who can do him absolutely no good.”
The New York Yankees just finished up their 5th year of HOPE Week. To the Yankees, HOPE is an acronym that stands for Helping Others Persevere and Excel. Each year, the Yankees choose five different people or organizations to honor and be their guest.
Here are just a few honorees in past years:
- Andy Fass, a young boy who suffers from oculocutaneous albinism, which left him blind and without pigment in his skin.
- 17 year old Megan Ajello who has cerebral palsy and scoliosis, and has had six major surgeries, including a spinal fusion.
- Jorge Grajalas, a 13-year-old quadruple amputee born in Panama. As an infant, Jorge lost all four limbs from an infection.
- Jane Lang, who has been blind since birth has taken the two-hour, two-train voyage to Yankee Stadium with her guide dog, Clipper over 250 times.
- George Murray, a Lou Gehrig fan who suffered from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) whose wish was to take his 4-year old to his first Yankee game.
- Tuesday’s Children, a mentoring program that pairs children who lost a parent in 9/11 with mentors with common interests.
In 2011, I was fortunate to be honored, along with other mentors and Tuesday’s Children by the Yankees as we were joined by Mariano Rivera, Curtis Granderson, Phil Hughes, Luis Ayala, Cory Wade and Steve Garrison, and Joe Torre at the Beekman Beach Club at the South Street Seaport. We played games, had lunch, then rode the Delta Baseball Water Taxi to Yankee Stadium, via The Statue of Liberty. That night, Tuesday’s Children was honored by the Yankees as special guests during the game.
Yesterday, my mentee, Amish, who lost his mother in 9/11, and I (pictured above with Yankee catcher, Austin Romine) were invited to be part of HOPE Week, attending a presentation by Kirk Smalley, whose son, Ty was bullied for years at school. One day Ty fought back and got suspended from school. He then took his own life. He was 11. Kirk was joined by his wife, Laura as well as students who started Stand for the Silent, an organization started to support the Smalleys and anti-bullying. This powerful talk was attended by a few hundred students with surprise Yankee guests, Andy Pettitte, Brian Cashman, Lyle Overbay, Larry Rothchild, Travis Hafner, Boone Logan, Joba Chamberlain, Austin Romine and Jennifer Steinbrenner.
Then, later that evening before the game, Amish and I were invited to a HOPE Week reunion dinner with the above honorees and others, plus members of the media. I have never been in a room full of such inspiring individuals. Afterwards, we received complimentary tickets to the game.
While it is true that the New York Yankees have more championships than any other professional sports team, but to me, what they do for others during HOPE Week makes them real champions. We often hear about professional athletes getting into trouble, but we don’t often hear about the good things they do to make a difference in the world, especially those who can do them “absolutely no good.” In fact, nobody knows this, but one Yankee has even offered to pay the entire college tuition for a young boy whose father passed away.
What does this blog message have to do with you?
You don’t have to hit, run, throw, or catch like a Yankee, but you can have the same attitude and mindset as they do. It’s already inside you.
Special thanks to the Yankees, Tuesday’s Children, and my mentee Amish…and thank you for reading.