Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Yankees HOPE Week: A Kickball Game Supporting "No Bully" Campaign

Aaron Judge (right) looks on as a big play is made in the kickball game. Photo by Jason Schott.

Yankees HOPE Week continued on Tuesday morning as Yankees players and coaches joined Cassidy Warner, her family, and children and staff from the anti-bullying organization “No Bully” for a kickball game at Heritage Field, the site of the original Yankee Stadium and across the street from the current Stadium.

Yankees players Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Dellin Betances, Austin Romine, Neil Walker and A.J. Cole and coaches Mike Harkey, Marcus Thames, Carlos Mendoza, Reggie Willits and P.J. Pilittere were on hand for the game.

Aaron Judge (2nd from l.) and Giancarlo Stanton (r.) greet a representative from the "No Bully" campaign. Photo by Jason Schott.

Founded in San Francisco in 2003, “No Bully” (www.nobully.org) was started by a collaborative team of educators, psychologists and lawyers committed to building a kinder and more compassionate world through ending the crisis of bullying in schools and online.

Since its founding, No Bully has had a 90% success rate eliminating bullying in schools, serving 326 schools and over 200,000 students, partnering with institutions, families, parents, and students to teach the good use of power by empowering voice, compassion toward others, and inclusivity.

Dellin Betances closing in on a catch. Photo by Jason Schott.

Cassidy Warner and “No Bully”

Names can be just as harmful as sticks and stones. Just ask Cassidy Warner.

The 10-year-old Scranton, Pennsylvania, fourth-grader exhibited bravery beyond her years this March, posting a video on Facebook without her parents’ knowledge, detailing her struggles with being bullied. She does not speak in her video, instead holding up white sheets of paper with handwritten descriptions of bullying she has endured at school. She writes that classmates have spit on her, pulled her hair and spilled milk on her jacket. They’ve pushed and kicked her and threatened her life, and whenever she sits at a lunch table, other kids leave.

Her sadness was not limited to her own experiences. She also hoped her video could affect change in the world, ending her post with a message that read, “This is my story… Stop bullying! Not just for me for other kids too. Please share my story!”

Buoyed by the power of social media, her video began to be noticed around the world. Actor Hugh Jackman posted a heartfelt message back to her, saying, “Hi Cassidy .... I’m Hugh. I want you to know you’re loved, special & smart. You’re strong, funny & beautiful both inside and out. BULLYING IS NOT OK. Please never stop asking for help. You will find it from people and places you never thought possible. I’m your friend.”

When her story came to the attention of the Yankees, the team offered her their support and let the world know that they are against bullying by filming a video of their own featuring virtually the entire roster and manager Aaron Boone. The team let her know that the Yankees were her friends, and that they’d love to have her at their lunch table in the clubhouse.

“It meant so much to her and our family to see the Yankees get behind her,” said her father, James Warner. “What makes me so proud of Cassidy was that it wasn’t just about her. She wanted to make things better for other kids.

“Things are improving for her now, but it’s still hard. The school has addressed the bullying, but the kids aren’t so fast to change. As tough as it’s been, she has made a difference in how people look at bullying. Because of all the support she has received, she has hope when she didn’t before.”

A girl makes a big catch to keep that runner from scoring. Photo by Jason Schott.

About HOPE Week:
Created in 2009, HOPE (Helping Others Persevere and Excel) Week is based on the fundamental belief that acts of goodwill provide hope and encouragement to more than the recipient of the gesture.

Each day from Monday, June 11 - Friday, June 15, the Yankees will reach out to a different individual, family or organization worthy of recognition and support. Though each day’s celebration will culminate at Yankee Stadium, outreach will often take place away from the Stadium, allowing the Yankees to personally connect with individuals in the settings of their greatest successes or at locations that honor the spirit of their endeavors.

Giancarlo Stanton takes his place in the infield. Photo by Jason Schott.

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