Jul. 7, 2023 By Ethan Marshall
As part of their annual HOPE Week, the New York Yankees honored Dancing Dreams on Wednesday, July 5, at the nonprofit’s Bayside location. Yankees manager Aaron Boone, along with players Harrison Bader, Domingo Germán, Wandy Peralta and Albert Abreu, took part in a dance class at the studio before presenting a $10,000 check to assist the organization in furthering its impact.
Dancing Dreams was founded in 2002 by pediatric physical therapist Joann Ferrara to provide dance classes and performance opportunities for those between the ages of 3 and 21 who deal with medical or physical challenges. The dance classes are adapted in order to allow each participant to take part in them to the best of their skillset.
Ferrara has seen the nonprofit grow from teaching five children at one location to more than 130 each year across its three locations in Bayside, the Upper East Side and Plainview.
According to Ferrara, Dancing Dreams helps these kids a lot with their self-esteem by providing them with an environment where they can be themselves, as they are encouraged by Ferrara and the Dancing Dreams staff to dance with their hearts.
In addition to taking part in one of the Dancing Dreams classes and presenting a $10,000 donation, the Yankees invited the group to attend batting practice and participate in a pregame ceremony prior to their July 5 game against the Baltimore orioles. The pregame ceremony featured Ferrara receiving the President’s Volunteer Service Lifetime Achievement Award from AmeriCorps. She also got to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
“Today was just an incredible day,” Ferrara said. “What an experience for the children, their parents and our organization. The players were incredible. Everyone from the organization was wonderful. The check was unbelievable. Truly, for an organization like [Dancing Dreams], that check is life-changing. It will go a very long way toward helping us provide dance wear and materials for our program.”
The experience was as memorable for the players on hand as it was for the kids. Bader said it was great to see the kids open up as they began dancing with each other. He also commented on how impressive it was to hear from Ferrara about the inspiration and purpose for Dancing Dreams.
“She went out on a limb and started [Dancing Dreams],” Bader said. “It’s really amazing because it’s kind of how a lot of these things start. They just start with an idea and then you just keep it rolling. To see her bring in so many incredible volunteers who devote their time and make so many kids happy through dancing, it was really special to listen to and I’m very happy and honored.”
The Yankees’ Helping Others Persevere and Excel (HOPE) Week initiative has been annually devoting each day of a week shining a spotlight on different individuals, families and organizations worthy of support since 2009. The initiative is rooted in the fundamental belief that acts of goodwill will provide hope and encouragement to the recipient of the gesture and beyond. Each day is designed for honorees to share their inspirational stories with Yankees players, fans and the media, while being surprised with the day of their dreams. Outreach often occurs at locations within the community symbolizing the accomplishments of the honorees.