Thursday, June 20, 2024

Yankees HOPE Week Day 4: MDMotivator


HOPE Week honorees Zachery Dereniowski and Jacob Cohan. Provided by New York Yankees.

On Thursday, the fourth day of Yankees HOPE Week, the team welcomed Jacob Cohan and Zachery Dereniowski (MDMotivator) to Yankee Stadium for a pregame tour, a Hands on History experience in the Yankees Museum, and were honored in a pregame ceremony before their game against Baltimore.

On June 5, Yankees players Nestor Cortes, Gleyber Torres, Anthony Volpe, and Dennis Santana teamed up with Zachery to surprise Jacob, who is nine years old of Clifton, New Jersey.

Jacob Cohan with (from l. to r. Volpe, Dereniowski, Torres, Santana, and Cortes. Provided by New York Yankees.

Jacob, who is a big Yankees fan, suffered an unimaginable tragedy as he lost his older brother in a car accident a year ago.

The group spent the afternoon playing catch in a nearby park before Jacob, his family, and Zachery were the Yankees' guests for batting practice ahead of their game against Minnesota.

Jacob took some cuts in the batting cage, met Yankees players and coaches, ran the bases, threw out a ceremonial first pitch alongside Zachery, and took part in postgame high-fives, as the Yankees beat the Twins that night.

Aaron Judge with Zachery and Jacob in the batting cage on June 5. Provided by New York Yankees.

Yankees captain Aaron Judge surprised Jacob and Zachery with the news that they would be HOPE Week honorees. Haley Swindal, Director of the New York Yankees Foundation, and Gleyber Torres presented Zachery with a $10,000 check to his foundation, Kindness is Cool.

Haley Swindal, Zachery, Jacob, and Gleyber Torres with the Yankees Foundation check. Provided by New York Yankees.

On Thursday, before the game with Baltimore, Jacob and Zachery were honored on the fourth day of HOPE Week, and Zachery received AmeriCorps' President's Volunteer Lifetime Service Award, which was presented by AmeriCorps Director Sonali Nijhawan.

Yankees Manager Aaron Boone with Jacob on Thursday. Provided by New York Yankees.

HOPE WEEK HONOREE: ZACHERY DERENIOWSKI - @MDMOtivator (Provided by New York Yankees)

Kindness is cool. It’s a creed that social media influencer Zachery Dereniowski lives by. Known on his platforms as “MDMotivator,” the Windsor, Ontario, Canada, native has harnessed the power of social media and used it to make a positive impact on countless lives.

During the pandemic, Zachery was a medical student in Sydney, Australia, and had hit a breaking point. One night, while on a walk in the rain, he was approached by two women who could see he was visibly distraught. They sat down with him and just listened as he poured out his feelings. In that moment, Zachery realized what he wanted his purpose in life to be. 

“The power of just having a stranger hear me made me want to do that for others,” Zachery said in an interview. “That pivoted my life.”

What began with simple videos of Zachery wearing a blindfold and hugging strangers that were going through something in their lives – depression, anxiety, heart break, financial troubles, etc. – has evolved into a series of life-changing moments, provided by Zachery, to those that need it most.

One of the hundreds of heart-warming stories Zachery has shared featured a father and young son with autism who were living out of their car. Not only did Zachery make their day with a gift of some much-needed cash and tickets to a Lakers game, but he helped provide them with sustainable assistance, raising over $238,000 through crowdfunding, allowing the father and son to get their own apartment for the first time in their lives. The video was viewed by more than 98 million people across his social channels.

Through simple acts of kindness, whether it be gifting cash, clothes, or household necessities to those in need, or just giving someone a hug when they need it most, Zachery has helped brighten thousands of people’s days over the last few years. However, the real difference is made when those interactions hit social media. With over 18 million followers on TikTok, 6.7 million on YouTube, 5.3 million on Instagram and 2.7 million on Facebook, these feel-good moments get amplified to all corners of the world.

That level of reach has led to multiple overwhelmingly successful GoFundMe campaigns, with some raising hundreds of thousands of dollars and completely changing the quality of people’s lives. Many of his surprises reward regular folks who are well intentioned and kind to complete strangers. One example involved a Tim Horton’s employee who stepped up to pay for food for a customer who forgot his wallet and was rewarded with a large cash gift from Zachery. Zachery also helped get a retired Navy Veteran with over 21 years of active-duty service a seat at Super Bowl LVII in Arizona.

As a part of HOPE Week 2024, with a special focus on the “good” that can come from social media, the Yankees would like to honor Zachery for all he’s given to others while spreading his simple message — kindness is cool.


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