Yanks to honor LL program in Tampa

The Yankees’ exhibition season in spring training got underway Tuesday in Clearwater, Fla., while those of us here in New York were dealing with yet another winter storm. As we freeze, the Yankees will continue to get ready for the 2015 season Wednesday with their first home game of the spring at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.

This week the Yankees will also kick off their announcement of HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) with a pregame ceremony Friday at Steinbrenner Field prior to their 7:05 p.m. game against the Pirates. In the spirit of the initiative, the Yankees will honor Palma Ceia Little League Challenger Baseball, which is a baseball program designed for the needs of children that live with physical or mental disabilities.

In the Palma Ceia Little League (PCLL), players learn and grow while having fun. Challenger Baseball provides an essential opportunity for kids to develop stronger emotional and social skills, and the program instills a “can do” attitude in the players. The experience helps children gain confidence and self-esteem. Participation is stressed over competition, and every player gets to bat, field and run the bases.

PCLL games take place at 4501 South Himes Avenue, not far from the Yankees’ minor league complex.

By involving every one of their players and coaches, manager Joe Girardi, general manager Brian Cashman and front office staff during the celebration of HOPE Week, the Yankees send the message that all can give of themselves to make their community a better place. Equally significant during HOPE Week is garnering publicity for the highlighted causes and organizations. The greatest challenge facing many not-for-profits is generating interest, awareness and funding for their missions.

At the conclusion of the last five HOPE Weeks, the Yankees organization has been honored with the President’s Volunteer Service Award, given “in recognition and appreciation of commitment to strengthening the nation and for making a difference through volunteer service.” The awards were bestowed by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation in conjunction with the Corporation for National and Community Service.

The Yankees have additionally been honored with the “Just Cause” Award at the PromaxBDA Sports Media Marketing Summit Nov. 15, 2011 and the “DMF Champion of HOPE” Award from Daniel’s Music Foundation Nov. 8, 2011. HOPE Week was also recognized by the National Sportsmanship Awards in 2010.

The seventh consecutive season of HOPE Week will take place in New York Aug. 17-21. Each day over the five-day stretch, the Yankees will reach out to an individual, family or organization worthy of recognition and support, surprising honorees with a day celebrating their accomplishments. Outreach will often take place away from Yankee Stadium, which will allow the Yankees to connect personally with individuals in settings that highlight their greatest successes.

This year’s event will mark the fourth year that all of the organization’s U.S.-based minor league affiliates will hold their own HOPE Weeks, allowing the initiative to reach five additional cities and touch more than two dozen additional individuals and groups.

HOPE Week is rooted in the fundamental belief that acts of goodwill provide hope and encouragement to more than just the recipient of the gesture. Fans can learn more about the initiative and nominate inspirational individuals for HOPE Week recognition by visiting the official website at hopeweek.com.

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