It’s H.O.P.E. week 2010, a New York Yankees initiative that stands for Helping Others Persevere and Excel. Each day this week, the Yankees will reach out to an individual, family or organization worthy of recognition and support. Players try to provide hope and encouragement to these people and the community. Every player, as well as Yankees skipper Joe Girardi, all participate in the outreach.
We’re halfway through the week and the Bronx Bombers stopped by downtown Manhattan at New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street Wednesday.
Ace pitcher CC Sabathia and Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, along with many other members of the Yankees team, visited the big board with today’s honoree Mohamed Kamara, who persevered through some very tough times to be where he is today.
Kamara will be a freshman at Johnson & Wales University majoring in business in a few weeks. Born during the civil war in his homeland of Sierra Leone in 1992, his father died when he was very young.
At the age of nine, Kamara had to provide for his four siblings and take care of his sick mother. In 2004, Kamara made the difficult choice to leave his family behind in search for the American Dream. He graduated in the top quarter of his class at Bronx Leadership Academy High School while working part-time jobs, so he could support his family back home.
I caught up with Kamara and the Yanks today on the floor of the NYSE.
Congratulations on getting recognized Mohamed. What does this Hope Week mean for you?
KAMARA: It means a lot. The Yankees are doing a good job and it means that my story inspires a lot of people. I’m really grateful and I really appreciate it.
Tell us a little about your story.
KAMARA: I survived the civil war in Sierra Leone for 11 years. Then came here for a better life and education.
CC, what are you looking to accomplish during HOPE Week?
SABATHIA: Just to get out in the community, meet wonderful guys [like Mohamed]. I’m really glad to be apart of it.
What has been the most memorable story so far?
SABATHIA: I think [Kamara’s] is the most memorable. They’re all remarkable and all special, but as soon as I saw his story, I signed up for this day right away.
What inspires you everyday?
SABATHIA: Just enjoy doing what I do. Have fun…It’s baseball. You get to realize that you can’t take it that seriously.
How does it feel to be with the Yankees and the organization? Is this a dream come true for you?
KAMARA: I’ve always wanted to go to Yankees Stadium. I never got a chance to go to a Yankees game so it’s really an honor for me to meet CC and the great Yankees staff. I’m really honored.
So you’re going to be a college freshmen in a few weeks studying business. Are you excited? Do you want to be one of these traders on the floor?
KAMARA: Oh yeah. One day I’m looking forward to [being on the trading floor]. That’s what I’m going to school for—to be a businessman, to be able to walk over here.
What kind of businessman do you want to be?
KAMARA: I want to travel around. To be able to give back to the poor is a big dream.
CC, anything else about this week?
SABATHIA: I hope this encourages people to go out and help in their community, and have other teams get and do something like this.
Who is your inspiration?
SABATHIA: My mom.
What does hope week mean for Mr. October?
JACKSON: It’s really special. The Yankees are singling out people that are doing special things in their lives.
Yesterday there was a woman, who was blind, who got to share some time with the Yankees. The other day a young man that had a swim party at his house [who has] no hands, no feet. And today, Mohamed. He’s just 18 years old, and contributing, the main breadwinner to his family.
I think myself, I’m proud to be a part of the Yankees and a part of the family.
You’re a businessman yourself, Mohamed strives to be a businessman. What tips do you have for him?
JACKSON: Listen, be patient, read as much as possible. It’s easy to find out who the people in the business are to listen and pay attention to. Recognize the trees don’t grow to the sky. Be smart; don’t be greedy. Recognize there are no miracle wonders, shortcuts, or fast ways to make money. It takes time and diligence.
What inspires you?
JACKSON: I’m a really grateful person. God gives me the opportunity to get up everyday with my health. There’s a new day everyday at 12:01am that is free. You get the chance to do with it whatever you want. I’m just so grateful for the things that are in my life. God gives me the chance to see and hear everyday. I’m blessed.
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