HOPE Week

Yankees HOPE Week Honoree: Kirk Smalley

The suicide of 11-year-old Ty Smalley three years ago shined a spotlight on the bullying he had endured for years at his school in a small Oklahoma town. A father’s grief led Kurt Smalley to begin a personal crusade to end bullying by taking a leadership role in the Stand for the Silent initiative that sprang from his son’s death.

Yankees HOPE Week Honoree: Birthday Wishes

Birthdays are big events for most people, but that’s not a given for those who are homeless and have few, if any, resources for life’s luxuries. Knowing that some kids won’t be able to celebrate this special day led three friends to create Birthday Wishes to spread a little joy to young children in homeless shelters.

Yankees HOPE Week Honoree: Pedro Rosario

While Pedro Rosario’s love of animals was the impetus behind a successful 16-year career at New York City Animal Care and Control, the realities of the job meant he had to witness the euthanizing of many unadopted animals. Rosario believed he could do more to save animals on his own, leading him to create the nonprofit New Beginning Animal Rescue (NBAR) in the East Bronx in 2012.

Yankees HOPE Week Honoree: Autumn Blinn

When 10-year-old Autumn Blinn’s grandmother taught her to sew, they decided to make a pillow for her grandfather John Santiago, who undergoes kidney dialysis three times a week at a Utica, NY, hospital. After John asked her to make another to rest his arm on during his treatments, Autumn was inspired to use her skills to make “Pillows of Love” for as many people as possible.

Yankees HOPE Week Honoree: Rockaway Special Athletes

Hurricane Sandy not only caused physical damage but wreaked havoc on many long-established community connections. In Rockaway Park, water damage to the St. Camillus-St. Virgilius Parish (SCSVP) gym scuttled a weekly gathering for children and adults with disabilities. But the community behind Rockaway Special Athletes worked to keep the Monday night tradition alive.

“Parents kept telling me, ‘The kids need their Mondays back,’” said Joe Featherston, the group’s founder. “For some, it had been part of their routine for 16 years. We had to figure out a way to keep it going.”

2013 HOPE Week Begins

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is again collaborating with the New York Yankees during its fifth-annual HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) to highlight acts of goodwill and service in the community.

Individuals and groups recognized during HOPE Week will be honored by the team during a Yankees game this week, and team members will attempt to personally connect with them in locations that honor the spirit of their service.

Yankees HOPE Week: Children's Alopecia Project

In October 2003, 14-year-old Madison Woytovich was having her hair braided by her mother, Betsy, when large chunks of Madison's hair began falling out. During the next seven weeks, 75 percent of her hair disappeared.

When meeting with the doctor, Madison was diagnosed with alopecia, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system accidently attacks hair follicles and causes hair loss. Her family was devastated when he told them that the type of loss Madison was experiencing would most likely lead to greater, if not complete hair loss.

Yankees HOPE Week: GlamourGals

Nursing homes can be scary places for the residents as they yearn for companionship in a situation that doesn't bring frequent visitors. Knowing those often-unfilled needs of the elderly led Rachel Doyle to turn her focus to improving this situation.

Doyle was a sophomore in high school when her grandmother passed away in a Nevada nursing home. In 2000 at the age of 17, Doyle created the first GlamourGals chapter in Commack, NY, to build connections between different generations and honor her grandmother.

Yankees HOPE Week: Andy Fass

When 5-year old Andy Fass attended his first baseball game, it was hard to imagine it would change his life. But a chance meeting with legendary Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte gave Fass the desire to try a game he thought he would never play.

Everything began when Andy's 7-year old sister, Katie, was honored with an academic award at a Trenton Thunder game on April 25. The family was given four front row seats next to the Thunder's bullpen.

Yankees HOPE Week Honoree: Flying Manes

Stefanie Dwyer's childhood in East Berlin before the fall of the Berlin Wall shaped her future in a unique way. After growing up in a country that had many limitations, Dwyer held on to memories of horseback riding that inspired her to bring that sense of freedom to people with physical and mental challenges.

“While I couldn't articulate it at the time, I felt a connection with those children with Down syndrome. Riding made them feel free, just as it did for me, and coming from East Germany, I've always understood how important that is,” said Stefanie.

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