HOPE Week – 2010
20, 2010 — The second installment of HOPE Week has just come to a close, and
for the second year in a row, it was a tremendous success.
days, the Yankees provided memories of a lifetime for the people who were this
year’s HOPE Week honorees. Each of the five days were jam packed with thrilling
moments for deserving individuals, groups and families.
In 2009, Yankees director
of media relations came up with a platform to help others, and the Yankees
created HOPE (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) Week.
HOPE Week sheds light on individuals and organizations worthy of
support with the hope that it will not only bring joy to those involved, but
also inspire others to act in their own communities.
“Why not take advantage of this gift and this opportunity we
have here and bring joy to a bunch of people?” Zillo said. “At its core, this
isn’t even really about the Yankees. At the floor of this thing, it’s just
immersing yourself in joy. It makes me feel like I’m living –really
living — not just existing.”
Each of the Yankees Magazine editors, including me,
covered one of the HOPE Week events. And the September issue of Yankees Magazine will feature a
five-part story, detailing each of the spectacular days of HOPE Week.
I covered the Wednesday’s events, and I was honored to get to
know Mohamed Kamara, his sister Fatmata and his high school history teacher and
mentor, Joe King.
What follows is Mohamed’s story (and a photo from each day of HOPE Week) that will
appear in the September issue of Yankees Magazine. But trust me, you
don’t want to miss the other four stories. Each of them is as inspiring as the next.
In his first 18 years of life, Mohamed Kamara has seen it all.
Kamara was born in Sierra Leone during the civil war. By the
time he was 9 years old, he was burdened with the responsibility of foraging
for his family’s food, while his parents and younger siblings kept a low
profile to avoid violent rebels who continually invaded their village.
Kamara’s troubles reached their zenith when his family went
missing for two weeks, leaving the young boy on his own.
In 2001, the United States offered asylum to young men and women
of Sierra Leone, and Kamara made the decision to move to the United States with
his older sister, Fatmata, leaving his parents and four younger siblings
Since relocating to the Bronx, where Kamara lives with his aunt
and uncle, he graduated in the top quarter of his class at the Bronx Leadership
Academy High School. During the last four years, Kamara has also put in long
hours as a caddie at a New Jersey golf club, sending his earnings to his family
in West Africa.
In September, Kamara began studying business at Johnson &
Wales University in Rhode Island. But a few weeks before Kamara took his first
class, he got to see the business world in a way he never imagined.
Kamara arrived at the New York Stock Exchange with his high
school history teacher and mentor, Joe King, and Fatmata for what he thought
was a public tour. But Kamara was instead whisked into a room where CC
Sabathia, Reggie Jackson and Brian Cashman awaited his presence.
“I was very surprised when I saw the players,” Kamara said. “I’m
honored to be a part of HOPE Week.”
The group traveled to the trading floor, where they were given a
VIP tour and where Kamara was offered a coveted summer internship position at
the stock exchange.
From Wall Street, the group traveled to City Hall, where New
York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg — along with Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson
and Marcus Thames — shared a few minutes with Kamara.
“Mohamed is smart, and he has a great personality,” Bloomberg
said. “He represents the future of America.”
“Mayor Bloomberg gave me advice about school,” Kamara said. “He
told me to keep working hard and to never give up, no matter what happens.”
Before the contingent left Manhattan, they made a stop at the
United Nations, where Shekou M. Touray, Sierra Leone’s permanent representative
to the United Nations, greeted Mohamed. A guided tour of the General Assembly
The day concluded at Yankee Stadium, where Kamara took in
batting practice from the field, watched the Yankees defeat the Tigers from the
seats, and then returned to the field to take part in the team’s postgame
“He handled himself with dignity,” Jeter said. “He was really
–Alfred Santasiere III