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The Evolution of Yankees HOPE Week

The New York Yankees hosted their seventh annual HOPE Week from Aug. 17-21 in the New York Metro area. (Credit: New York Yankees. All Rights Reserved.)

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This kicks off WFUV Sports’ six piece special on the New York Yankees’ 2015 HOPE Week. Stay tuned for extensive looks at the five events from this year's initiative.

27 World Championships. 40 pennants. 57 playoff appearances. 21 numbers retired. Nearly 10,000 wins as a franchise.

The numbers are remarkable.

But there's another tradition that's been weaved into the Yankees' storied history over the past seven years- HOPE Week. 

An abbreviation for "Helping Others Persevere and Excel," HOPE Week was started in 2009 by the Yankees to utilize their platform to highlight inspiring stories worth telling.

The idea was first presented by now Yankees Executive Director of Communications and Media Relations Jason Zillo, after he was inspired by a television news feature on Camp Sundown, a nighttime camp in Craryville, New York. The camp is specifically for children with Xeroderma Pigmentosa (XP), a condition that can be deadly when one is exposed to the sun or other types of ultraviolet light.

“I was invested in what I saw in that piece that they [60 Minutes] did on Camp Sundown,” Zillo said. “The thinking goes: if more media outlets can spend the time it takes to tell some of these stories, there’s a good chance that people are going to say, ‘wait a second, maybe I can do something too.’”

In seven years, the Yankees have recognized over 30 individuals and organizations as part of the initiative, including Camp Sundown in 2009. The program has grown to include all Yankees’ minor league affiliates, which now host their own HOPE Week in the community each year.

“There’s a lot of inspiration around us,” Zillo said. “If you come away saying ‘I don’t see inspiration,’ you’re just not looking hard enough.”

Not only is it a week of inspiration each summer, it also tends to treat the Yankees well on the field. In seven years, the Yankees are 23-10 during HOPE Week. At the time of this interview, the Bronx Bombers were 23-8, good for an astonishing .741 winning percentage.

“At some point when you get to that many games, you start wondering is it coincidence?,” Zillo said. “If it’s a five or ten game sample, you don’t pay too much attention to it. But when you’re talking about 35 or 40 games, that’s a lot. I don’t know. It’s a really good thing, though. I’m certainly not complaining.”

The goal is to continue to improve upon HOPE Week each year and to continue to tell the stories worth telling.

When someone criticizes the Yankees next time, don’t mention any of the remarkable numbers above—mention HOPE Week.

That adds new meaning to World Champion.

 

To listen to the full interview with Zillo, please click play below.