|Landis Sims, Yankees players and coaches, and athletes from the Challenged Athletes Foundation. Photo provided by the New York Yankees.
The Yankees HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) started on Monday at Yankee Stadium. This is the 13th edition of a week-long community program that gives recognition to remarkable stories intended to inspire individuals into action in their own communities.
Over each of the five days, the Yankees will reach out to an individual, family, or organization worthy of recognition and support, providing honorees with a day celebrating their accomplishments. For more information about this initiative, which is spearheaded by Jason Zillo, Yankees Vice President of Community & Media Relations, visit hopeweek.com.
At Monday's event, Yankees Manager Aaron Boone, Bench Coach Carlos Mendoza, Pitching Coach Matt Blake, Hitting Coach Dillon Lawson, First Base Coach Travis Chapman, and Yankees players Luis Severino, Jose Trevino, Kyle Higashioka, and Marwin Gonzales hosted Landis Sims, a 16-year-old varsity baseball player who was born without hands and feet, and other limb-deficient children from the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) taking batting practice and having a baseball skills instruction at Yankee Stadium.
|Landis Sims taking batting practice. Provided by New York Yankees.
|CAF athlete Chase Merriwether with Yankees catcher Kyle Higashioka in right field. Provided by New York Yankees.
|Merriwether taking a big swing. Provided by New York Yankees.
|Yankees Manager Aaron Boone. Provided by New York Yankees.
|Landis Sims with Yankees catcher Jose Trevino. Provided by New York Yankees.
|Landis Sims throwing one around second base. Provided by New York Yankees.
"Just watch me."
Those are the words 16-year-old Landis Sims lives his life by. Landis was born without hands and his lower legs, but he has not let that stop him. When someone doubts or questions what he can accomplish, he repeats those three simple words.
"He 100 percent feels that God made him exactly the way he's supposed to be," said Landis' mother, Amanda.
Landis started playing basketball at age 3 with able-bodied peers and began baseball at 4 years old. The Yankees were first introduced to Landis in 2016, when he was 10 years old. Upon learning of his dreams of being a Major League player, the Yankees arranged for a visit to spring training in Tampa and signed him to a one-day contract. Landis was assigned a locker in the clubhouse and spent the day working out and taking batting practice with the team.
Landis made a follow-up visit to the club the following season, throwing out the ceremonial first pitch prior to a game at Yankee Stadium and representing the club at the MLB First-Year Player Draft in June 2017.
Since the Yankees last saw Landis, the teenager has continues his inspirational journey, following his passion for sports and competition among his high school peers. Last year, Landis' unfettered determination paid off as he made his high school varsity baseball team at South Central High School in Elizabeth, Indiana.
"I am only legally handicapped, not physically," Landis said.
While working toward that goal, Landis has been a role model to other children that have been born with limb deficiency. He has teamed up with the Challenged Athletes Foundation (www.challengedathletes.org), which provides opportunities and support to people with physical challenges, so they can pursue active lifestyles through physical fitness and competitive athletics. This organization helped him along the way, and now he's giving back to them.
The world will get to see Landis' inspirational journey for themselves in a documentary about his life that will be released in July. (please check out landismovie.com for more information)
"I've always had challenges in my life, but that's never scared me," Landis said. "Everybody's got something that they have to work through."