HOPE Week: ‘Pillows of Love’

The Yankees celebrated Autumn Blinn and her dedication to those in need through her “Pillows of Love” initiative Tuesday on the second day of HOPE Week 2013 (Helping Others Persevere & Excel).

Yankees manager Joe Girardi and players Robinson Cano, David Robertson, Vernon Wells and Jayson Nix surprised Autumn and assisted her in handing out homemade pillows to sick children at the Ronald McDonald House on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The Yankees and Delta Air Lines flew Autumn and her family from Central New York.

The players, Autumn, and her family spent time with the children, playing games in the playroom of the facility on East 73rd Street between First and York Avenues and having a pizza party. Autumn and her family were invited to Yankee Stadium for the 7:05 p.m. game against the Royals where they watched batting practice from the field and took in pre-game ceremonies.

Coping with a hospital stay of any length can be a scary proposition. Autumn Blinn, 10, from Rome, N.Y., realized this from spending time with her grandfather, John Santiago, who undergoes kidney dialysis three times a week at their local hospital, Faxton St. Luke’s in nearby Utica.

Last year, when Autumn’s grandmother, Shari, taught her to sew, they decided to make a pillow for their first project. When her grandfather saw it, he asked if she could make him a pillow on which to rest his arm during dialysis. After John, a Bronx native, proudly showed off his pillow to other patients, Autumn realized that other dialysis patients could be uplifted by the gift of a pillow.

Without prompting, she dove into making “Pillows of Love” for as many people as possible. Over the last year, she has made approximately 175 pillows for sick children and adults.

Autumn has donated pillows to dialysis patients and pediatric patients at Faxton St. Luke’s, residents of the Rome Memorial Hospital facility in her hometown, and for children at both the Ronald McDonald House in Syracuse and Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx. Autumn continues to sew pillows during her free time between school, sports and spending time with her brothers, Justin, 8, and Thomas, 7, and her sister, Isabella, 4. Media should note that Autumn’s parents, Ray and Kara Snell, are both deaf, and the family uses American Sign Language to communicate in their home.

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