On December 5, Derek Jeter and Turn 2 Holiday Express brightened the lives of more than 600 New York City children at Yankee Stadium. The event was a celebration of the many young participants in Jeter’s Turn 2 Foundation, providing gifts, activities and even a surprise visit from Jeter himself.
The special event was a chance to recognize the collective efforts of the thousands of youngsters involved in the Turn 2 Foundation. Turn 2 takes a grassroots approach to strengthening communities, requiring children to demonstrate academic success and leadership outside the classroom in order to be part of its Signature Programs.
The Holiday Express event gave Turn 2’s young, hardworking participants a holiday memory they will cherish forever. In an era when superstar athletes dominate headlines and do everything to “promote their brand,” it’s easy to forget just how meaningful a personal visit from a hero like Jeter can be.
And this one was all about the kids. Of the many young participants, Jeter said:
“We want them to have fun; everyone should feel special during the holiday season.”
But Jeter wasn’t alone in facilitating this tremendous event. He needed some help and on December 5, his double play partner was Santa. Along with Santa, a driving force behind the Holiday Express was the New York Jeter’s Leaders.
Jeter’s Leaders are a continuation of the Foundation’s grassroots campaign to raise valuable, contributing members of the community. According to the website, “The program is designed to promote healthy lifestyles, academic achievement, and social change activism among high school students.”
One of the Jeter’s Leaders, Cindy, had this to say about the event:
“The best part about this event … is the kids’ faces when you see them walking in, their smiles, that warms my heart every single time. Being able to give back to your community is the best feeling in the world.”
For a guy who has earned upwards of $236 million during his playing career (that’s just salary, probably double when you consider endorsements), it would be easy just to write a big check and then head down to a vacation in the Caribbean. But for Jeter, direct participation and contact with the thousands of kids his program touches is important.
“It’s tough throughout the course of the season,” Jeter admitted. “But during the offseason, we have an opportunity to do more events.”
Turn 2 Foundation has existed since Jeter’s rookie year and he was quick to give credit to those who have helped push the program along ever since. With a presence from New York to Michigan and all the way down to Florida, Turn 2 has always needed strong leadership.
Jeter talked about his sister, Sharlee, and her contributions to the Foundation:
“She’s done a tremendous job over the years. Even though I’m the boss, she is taking that title over. My dad was originally calling all the shots, the day to day activities, but now it’s her. So she deserves a lot of credit.”