WFUV's award winning coverage of Yankees HOPE Week continues
For some people watching sports is about more than watching their favorite team win or lose. There is often a deeper connection with the game and the struggle that teams go through to find victory or the agony of defeat.
In 2004 Jaclyn Murphy was battling for her life against a brain tumor. Murphy found support and comfort from a group of athletes in the midst of a championship run. The Northwestern Women’s lacrosse team adopted found out about Jaclyn’s story and adopted her as an honorary member of the team. The comradeship Jaclyn found in being part of a team greatly influenced her spirit and helped her recover from her disease.
Today Jaclyn Murphy is now 19, and attending college, but her father Dennis was so moved by this experience that he was driven to create the Friend of Jaclyn Foundation. The organization focuses on pairing college and high school sports teams with cancer patients, through an adopt a child program. The foundation started as a small grass roots organization, but has now grown to its 500th adoption.
On June 17th 2014, the New York Yankees honored the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation as part of their 6th annual HOPE Week. The day started at the Hard Rock Café in Times Square where Jaclyn and three young kids with the organization were surprised with a private lunch. Manager Joe Girardi, David Robertson, Matt Thornton, and David Phelps were all in attendance to greet the families and kids. Following the lunch event the surprises continued back at Yankee Stadium.
Once back in the Bronx, 4 year old Quinn Ostergen, 12 year old Ryan Tucker, and 11 year old Sean Callahan all signed official one day contracts with the Yankees. Like all new players signing through free agency, the kids were introduced to the media by general manager Brian Cashman at a press conference. The kids were each given their own uniform and locker in the Yankees’ clubhouse. Before the game against the Blue Jays that night they went onto the field to take part in some warm-up activities with other Yankee players.
It was a truly special day to see these kids who have gone through so much in their young lives have an experience they will remember forever. The Yankees may not have found a cure for cancer, but at least for a couple of hours, these three kids got a chance to be kids again. For these kids and their families that makes a world of difference.