Sweet Spot With Mike Sugerman: Yankees Celebrate 10 Years Of HOPE Week

June 21, 2019 - 5:00 am
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NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- The New Yankees are celebrating 10 years of HOPE Week.

Every year, over a period of fives days, the team honors inspirational groups and individuals making a difference in their communities.

"HOPE we think is an ambitious community outreach program that we developed in 2009 where we try and shine light on inspiring people in our community by any means necessary," said Jason Zillo, vice president of communications and media relations for the Yankees.

"I would think that it would just hopefully bring awareness and that's what we're trying to do to all these groups, people that are helping people in the community and that's all we ask," pithcer CC Sabathia said.

"It's all about that we all have time in ourlives to give, whether we have money or not, it's all about the time," Yankees general partner Jenny Steinbrenner Swindal said.

All past honorees were invited for a special reunion that was held this week at Yankee Stadium.

Jan Brunkhorst was among the alumni. She's the executive of the Beautiful People, the Orange County chapter of the Miracle League. With help from the HOPE Program they were about to build an adaptive baseball field in Warwick where children with disabilities can play ball.

"We had started fundraising, but there's no question that the Yankee light launched us," said Brunkhorst.

Keith Grunenberg is grateful that his son, Kenneth, has the opportunity to play sports

"The disability doesn't matter if you don't mind. If he could do what the other kids are doing it's like a regular kid," Grunenberg said. 

Tony Hillery, who runs the community gardening program Harlem Grown, is another HOPE honoree. He was shocked in 2016 when the team recognized his work to get youth eating healthy through hands-on urban farming.

"Half the team shows up on our farm on 134th Street. That not only blew my community's mind, it blew my mind. It was a total surprise to me," Hillery said. "Is there a more iconic brand in the world than the New York Yankees? People always ask that question, I think it answers itself."

For the Yankees, there is always HOPE -- both on the field and off.