NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Yankees HOPE Week is wrapping up, but not before one teen received the surprise of his life.
HOPE Week is a weeks worth of inspirational stories and moments for some very special people. The “HOPE” stands for Helping Others Persevere and Excel.
As CBS 2’s Otis Livingston reported on Friday, Quai Jefferson thought he was being honored for his athletic accomplishments, but the two-sport star athlete at St. Joe’s of Montvale got more than he ever expected on the final day of HOPE Week.
One by one the stars of the New York Yankees — Mark Texiera, C.C. Sabathia, Dellin Betances and more — arrived to honor Jefferson for his off the field commitment as primary care giver to his mother Vaida, who has had multiple sclerosis since he was six years old.
Yankees HOPE Week Honors Teen For Caring For Mom With Multiple Sclerosis
The team held a picnic in his honor and welcomed back former graduate Yankee John Flaherty, WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported.
“I was lucky enough to do some things on the baseball field, but what he does day in and day out is a lot more important. This kid is going to be successful in whatever he chooses to do,” Flaherty said.
The family’s heartwarming story even got Yankee executive director of media relations Jason Zillo choked up.
“Our players are here to support you and we’re here to support you. It’s a beautiful story,” Zillo said.
“It’s an honor that they actually care enough and considerate to come out and spend some time with me. Take time out of the day from their busy schedules, it means a lot,” Jefferson said.
But while fans are inspired by the Bronx Bombers, the team said they’re inspired by Jefferson and his mom.
“You know to be able to do what he does and take care of his mom, take care of his grades, get a scholarship, it’s amazing. It makes everybody else around here seem lazy, me included,” said Sabathia.
“When Quai first came in the door carrying his mother — I mean literally carrying her in — you knew right away you had a special kid and a special relationship. And been it’s something that’s carried through our community,” said St. Joseph’s Regional H.S. principal Barry Donnelly.
As any one can imagine, Jefferson’s story has had many ups and downs along the way. Vaida has had a lot of health scares over the years, but she and Jefferson have gotten through them together, Livingston reported. And she’s thankful that he’s listened to many of her life lessons.
“And it’s all about doing something positive and being able to make a difference in your life, but also somebody else’s,” Vaida said.
In the fall, Jefferson will be a freshman football player at the University of Delaware. For the first time in their lives, he and his mother will be apart. But not even the miles can break their special bond.
“I love you and you’re my shining light. I’m gonna continue to do the things I do and succeed just for you to make sure you’re OK and see you smile,” Jefferson said to his mom.
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