A Beautiful Baseball Bedroom in the Bronx
Said Rivera was filled with tears of joy on Friday as the New York Yankees and Blissful Bedrooms surprised him at his Bronx apartment. (New York Yankees)
This is the fifth and final part of a five part series on the Yankees eighth annual HOPE Week. All five audio pieces can be heard Saturday on One on One, New York’s Longest Running Sports Call-In Show, on 90.7 FM, WFUV.org and WFUVSports.org from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
While every child envisions the perfect bedroom growing up, very few see their dreams realized.
But that’s exactly what happened for 18-year-old Said Rivera on Friday, June 10, as Blissful Bedrooms and the New York Yankees teamed up to create a Yankees-themed bedroom makeover in his Bronx apartment as part of the franchise’s eighth annual HOPE Week.
Said, a diehard Yankees fan, is a typical teenager who enjoys playing video games and hanging out with friends, but suffers from the effects of cerebral palsy, which he was diagnosed with when he was just five months old.
Greeted by Aroldis Chapman, Nathan Eovaldi, Didi Gregorius, Aaron Hicks and Alex Rodriguez, Said’s reaction could not have been more genuine.
“It was just fun when we got [to Said’s apartment],” Gregorius said. “He started crying of joy. It was just amazing to make his day and to do all this for him.”
While Said was the direct beneficiary on Friday, Blissful Bedrooms has been operating since 2009. A group of around 20 or 30 volunteers typically participates in each makeover that the charity performs, all in a 48-hour period always beginning on a Friday night. Alongside former Blissful Bedroom recipients, a dinner is held and the design of the new room is revealed on Sunday night.
“Our goal for each bedroom is to create a personal sanctuary conceived exclusively for the individual — a safe haven where the young person will feel inspired, protected, stimulated, valued, appreciated and loved,” co-founder Martha Gold-Dvoryadkin said. “This is achieved by a collection of talented and motivated volunteers from the community, who create, design and construct a unique environment that is born out of the recipient’s passions, dreams, fantasies and favorite colors.”
After some sewing, which Hicks turned his attention to, and some basic painting, which Gregorius graded as “really good” on account of his drawing hobby, the group took a break and shared pizza in the community room of the Rivera apartment.
Sitting across from A-Rod over lunch, Said, who is also on a wheelchair basketball team, was not afraid to have some fun on his special day, claiming that he “liked LeBron [James] better.”
And moments later, the day got even better.
With a folded slice like a true New Yorker, Gregorius mentioned that Said, his mother, Jennifer, and Martha were each going to throw out ceremonial first pitches before the Yankees battled the Tigers at Yankee Stadium later that day.
“I can’t wait,” Said said after his mother screamed in excitement at the news.
The day capped with a 4-0 Yankees win, allowing Said’s family and Blissful Bedrooms to celebrate the victory with the 27-time World Champions in the postgame handshake line.
As a whole, the Yankees cannot wait for next year’s HOPE Week as the team’s 5-0 performance during this year’s event improved the storied franchise’s all-time HOPE Week record to 28-10 (.737).
“The guys enjoy it and it’s just a good thing happening here,” manager Joe Girardi said with a smile following Friday’s game. “We seem to play well during HOPE Week, so we thought we’d have it next week.”
In their five games since the conclusion of HOPE Week, the team is 1-4.
To listen to the audio piece, click play below.
(Interviews courtesy of Yankees on Demand)
Rodriguez, Gregorius and Hicks share some laughs. (New York Yankees)
The Yankees contingent poses with Said Rivera. (New York Yankees)
Rodriguez presents Said with a bat. (New York Yankees)
Eovaldi and Hicks working hard, but finding time to smile. (New York Yankees)