Through Co-Chairman Hank Steinbrenner, the Yankees set up Hank’s Yanks, which is a charity designed to bring under-privileged children the ability to play little league and help them in life matters as well.
But the charity helps more than the under-privileged. It also works with the community and helps those with special needs.
“Due to the fact a couple of very close people in my life have children with special needs, it had originally open my eyes that they are people too,” said Hank’s Yanks co-founder Ray Negron, who started the charity with Hank Steinbrenner at the request of George Steinbrenner. “Due to that fact, it’s important they have an outlet to express themselves and have fun like all kids too.
“When I see them put the Hank’s Yanks uniform on and the look of the pride in their face makes me as a representative of the Yankees, Mark Wilson, who is a representative of the New York City Police, Kristine Fitzpatrick who works with these kids everyday of her life, and everyone involved selfishly feel like better people.”
On Friday, Hank’s Yanks, in conjunction with the formally the Miracle League of Long Island and now League of Yes, held its third annual “Baseball Under The Lights” at Farmingdale State College, where members of the Hanks Yanks travel teams worked with kids with special needs on baseball skills and played an actual game.
“Hank’s Yanks does unbelievable work in community work,” said Wilson, who is the general manager of Hank’s Yanks. “One of the things they have done was work with the Miracle League of Long Island. We noticed that the kids that were physically able were getting kind of bored because they were standing around. We thought why not pull them out. If they are physically able why not take them to the next level.
“Literally everyone was in tears when we started working with them.”
In 2015, members of the Miracle League of Long Island voted unanimously to go out on their own and founded the League of Yes.
“The Miracle League of Long Island is designed for kids with special needs and they wanted a non-competitive baseball environment where kids with all different special needs,” Wilson said. “You can kids in wheel chairs and they hit off a tee and they get pushed around. And you have kids that are physically able, but are mentally handicapped. You have Down Syndrome, Autism and those kinds of things.”
League of Yes director Kristine Fitzpatrick says her organization helps around 300 children with special needs in all of Long Island and the organization is getting large enough to have separate leagues in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. They also have over 1000 kids volunteer to help special needs children.
“We are the League of Yes because we don’t say no to the parents. It also stands for You Experience Success,” Fitzpatrick said. “Mark Wilson with Hank’s Yanks came down the first year and promised me the world and is probably the only person who has come through on all their promises.”
For their help, The League of Yes donated three small scholarships to members of the Hank’s Yanks traveling teams.