Monday, July 27, 2009

Keeping Hope Alive

Last week's HOPE week for the Yankees--a week dedicated to community outreach in which every Yankee took part--has been hailed as a resounding success.

The Yankees participated in a youth mentoring program, visited a child with cerebral palsy, an adult with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and staged an overnight carnival for children who have an allergy to the sun, among other things.

While HOPE week may have been great for the Yankees, the best part, for the fans, is that it doesn't have to end.

Everyone can contribute in some way to community outreach, and with that in mind, here's how you can help some of the causes promoted by the Yankees.

Youth Outreach

There are many ways in which one can help to make life a little bit better for a child, but one of the most recognizable programs is that of the big brothers/big sisters. The program, which has been around for more than 100 years, pairs adult mentors with children who need (or want) a role model.

It is hard to understate the value that one positive role model can have in a child's life, especially when that child may have come from a background in which he or she does not receive any of the care or love one would expect from his or her own home.

The great thing about mentoring is that there are so many options available--some that involve a lot of training and others that involve much less, and the best thing of all may be the gift that you give to children--the gift of hope.

Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy is a "term cerebral palsy refers to any one of a number of neurological disorders that appear in infancy or early childhood and permanently affect body movement and muscle coordination but don’t worsen over time." (NIH).

Since the severity of cerebral palsy can vary, so too can the treatment, although many options exist to try to help children have as close to normal lives as possible.

At the bottom of this page, there is a long list of organization whose goals include further research into cerebral palsy and providing care for those children who are stricken.

There are multiple ways to get involved, and cerebral palsy is a common enough condition that most people are aware of it, even if they don't know anyone that's been stricken.


ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease, is a condition that will be familiar to nearly any Yankee fan familiar with the team's history. Both Lou Gehrig and Catfish Hunter succumbed to the neurological disease, in which brain cells gradually lose motor function.

The Yankees, as one might expect, have never been shy about promoting the cause of research, as ALS has no cure and is ultimately fatal (with the apparently curious exception of Stephen Hawking).

The ALS Association seeks not just to find a cure for ALS, but to enrich the lives of those and their families who have been stricken.

The ALSA is affiliated with Major League Baseball, and offers opportunities to combine baseball with helping ALS research.


Xeroderma Pigmentosum is a rare condition in which children are actually allergic to the sun--and any other UV light.

Any exposure to UV light leads to severe burns and possibly skin and eye cancer--and it's rare for XP patients to live past the age of 20. Some of you who watch the TV show House may remember an episode a few seasons ago in which a girl was diagnosed with that condition.

The Xeroderma Pigmentosum Society is the group which runs Camp Sundown, which was publicized by the Yankees, but that is only a small portion of their work.

The group provides information on the condition and promotes scientific research as well, but because the condition is so rare, it does not receive the publicity that many other groups do.

The society offers multiple ways to help, from donation to how to help with fundraising or volunteering.


The four causes here are, of course, not the only causes that are worth considering.

On a personal note, I have donated to cancer research many times because, like many people, it is a cause that strikes especially close to home for me.

You may have another cause that strikes home to you--and it doesn't have to be a medical condition, either. It could be a cause dedicated to eradicating illiteracy, to promoting education for girls in areas in which women have few (if any) rights, a cause dedicated to providing care packages for troops abroad...

The options are extensive, and not all of them ask for your money; some just ask for a little bit of your time.

If you are sitting here, reading this post, you probably have a pretty decent life. So why not try and make it decent for some others as well?