HOPE Week: Vacations for cancer patients

HOPE Week concluded Friday with a visit by Yankees pitchers CC Sabathia, Nathan Eovaldi, Ivan Nova and Adam Warren and infielders Brendan Ryan and Greg Bird, who surprised Frank Squeo at Rockland BOCES in West Nyack, N.Y., to bake cookies with him and his family.

Squeo, 47, was diagnosed with Stage III testicular cancer in 2007. During the months that followed, he began his fight against cancer, undergoing surgery and chemotherapy. Just as troubling to Frank, there were many children who were battling their cancer alongside of him – kids who did not know a life beyond hospitals or their disease. Frank promised himself that when he overcame his illness, he would do something to help these children.

In 2012, the Rockland County resident founded Baking Memories 4 Kids, a non-profit organization that sells chocolate chip cookies during the holiday season. The sales from those cookies fund all-expenses-paid vacations for the families of children with life-threatening illnesses to Give Kids the World Village, an Orlando, Fla., resort designed specifically for children with disabilities and illnesses.

While on their vacations, children and their families have the opportunity to visit any of the Orlando-area amusement parks and receive VIP treatment. If a child falls ill on the trip or is too sick to go out, the amusement park of their choosing brings the excitement to them at the resort.
Strictly by word of mouth Frank and local volunteers sold more than 3,000 batches of cookies during their first holiday season in 2012. They were able to more than double their sales in their second season.

In less than three years, Frank has processed more than 10,000 cookie orders and sent 10 families to Orlando on their dream vacation. In 2015, they have committed to sending nine more families.

Prior to Friday’s game against the Indians, the Yankees will team with Baking Memories 4 ids to help surprise Noah Diaz and his family with an all-expenses-paid vacation. Noah Diaz is a four-year-old who suffers from a rare heart defect and Kabuki syndrome.

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