June 19, 2014
NEW YORK - Four-year-old Quinn Ostergren, an honorary member of the UConn women's soccer team, received the surprise of a lifetime on Wednesday afternoon when members of the New York Yankees joined her for lunch at the Hard Rock Café in Times Square. The meal would be the first phase of a full-day ceremony in which Quinn would be adopted by the Yankees organization as part of the program's HOPE Week initiative. She, along with two other children also battling pediatric brain tumors, were welcomed as the guests of honor in a pregame ceremony before the Yankees hosted the Toronto Blue Jays in an evening matchup on June 18.
The New York Yankees first implemented HOPE Week in 2009 to spotlight individuals, families or organizations worthy of support. The acronym stands for Helping Others Persevere & Excel and provides individuals with the day of their dreams, culminating in a trip to Yankee Stadium as a guest of honor for that day's game. From players to members of the front office, the entire Yankees organization participates in the event in an effort to spread encouragement, hope, and goodwill. For more information on HOPE Week, click here.
UConn women's soccer partnered with the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation in 2014 to adopt Quinn, holding a birthday party on Monday, Feb. 10 to officially welcome her to the team. Quinn resides with her family in nearby Tolland and has been in attendance at several of the Huskies' spring training matches. The team has grown close with Quinn and will attend her chemotherapy treatment on Thursday. A video of the adoption ceremony from February, including an interview with Quinn, her mother, and members of the team can be found here.
"They've just been so great," said Alyssa Ostergren, Quinn's mother, of both the UConn players and the Yankees organization. "The [UConn] girls came over and painted Quinn's bedroom, so every time Quinn goes to bed she sees their names and says `Oh look, there's Julie [Hubbard], there's Saucy [Allison Saucier].' It just moves my heart so much to know that they're a part of everything. It's been such an amazing experience with them."
On Wednesday, Quinn and her family, along with her 12-year-old cousin Ryan and 11-year-old Sean Callahan, had the rare opportunity to become Yankees for a day. Ryan was adopted by the Fairfield men's lacrosse team while New York native Sean will join the Army football team in the fall. The three met with a host of Yankees players and staff that included manager Joe Girardi for a private lunch in Times Square before heading to Yankee Stadium for an exciting day.
At a 3:15 p.m. press conference, Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman and Senior Vice President Jean Afterman introduced the trio and presided over the contract signing, in which the three children signed an official one-day contract as honorary team members. Yankees relief pitcher Shawn Kelley presented Quinn and the other two children with jerseys, hats and flowers as a symbolic welcome to the team in addition to providing legal guidance as the union representative. Quinn made history when she became the first-ever female to sign with the Yankees, though she declined to make any comments when the floor was opened up to the media for questions.
After the press conference, the children made their way to the Yankees clubhouse, where they received their own lockers. Quinn wasted little time introducing herself to Yankees captain Derek Jeter, explaining to him exactly how old she was, prior to joining the players for on the field pre-game activities during batting practice. Friends of Jaclyn representatives and family members joined the children on the diamond as well. A host of media outlets covered the event, which an included an interview with NBC `TODAY' Show host Matt Lauer in the Yankees dugout.
UConn soccer players Julie Hubbard and Allison Saucier represented the Huskies with Quinn in a pre-game ceremony highlighting the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation. Prior to the start of the game, Quinn helped deliver the official game ball to the pitcher's mound. Following the Bronx Bombers' 7-3 win over the Blue Jays, the three children joined the team in the traditional post-game high-five line in the Yankees infield.
Denis Murphy and his daughter, Jaclyn, after whom the non-profit is named, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to the evening's game. The idea for the organization began when Jaclyn was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in 2004 and given a 30 percent chance of survival. After being `adopted' by the Northwestern women's lacrosse team, the combination of Jaclyn's improved health and the Wildcats' inspired run to the program's first national championship revealed the importance of creating similar opportunities for mutual love and support across the country.
The Murphy family started the foundation in 2005 with the goal of matching children batting brain tumors to high school and college sports teams. This past May the organization celebrated its 500th adoption. To read more about the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation, log on to www.friendsofjaclyn.com.