Andy Fass entered a Yankee Stadium suite Wednesday morning to a sea of family, friends, Yankee players and reporters. He could have reacted like any 5-year-old. He could have been shy, overwhelmed, shocked or hysteric.
But that's not how the face of albinism inspiration rolls.
Andy, who suffers from oculocutaneous albinism, embraced his welcome party. The Hamilton, N.J., native hugged family and friends, high-fived Yankees players CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and Clay Rapada and opened gifts from the organization. When the media brigade cornered Andy, he did not stress. Instead, he held his own press conference and even grabbed a hold of a few TV microphones.
It would have been tough for an outsider to guess Andy lives a challenged lifestyle. His albinism, which is genetic, has left him legally blind, without pigment in the skin and unable to spend extended periods of time in the sun.
Andy was honored on the third day of the Yankees' HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) when the organization reaches out to a different individual, family or organization worthy of recognition and support. All players, coaches, front office staff and minor league affiliates contribute in at least some way to the week. The Yankees honored Fass and NOAH (The National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation) to raise albinism awareness.
The team would not have known about Andy had it not been for a chance encounter with another Andy.
The story starts back in mid-April. Andy's sister, Katie, was going to be honored at a Trenton Thunder game for an academic award, and the Fass family had three games to choose from. They chose to attend a Wednesday night game on April 25.
A problem soon developed. Shortly before game day, the Yankees announced Andy Pettitte would be making a rehab start at Trenton on April 25. When Andy's father Marc went to buy tickets the day before the game, his only option was standing-room only.
Knowing it would be tough for Andy to stay focused on a game standing the entire time, Marc opted to buy only two tickets for his daughter and himself.
Then things started to go the Fass' way. Well, after Marc took action.
"While I'm not proud of this, I went home and posted on Facebook a disparaging comment about Andy Pettitte," Marc said. "It was something to the effect of 'thanks for ruining a great family night, Andy Pettitte.' Well, that kind of started the wheel spinning. Friends of ours said they had season tickets to the Thunder, and they said even though they had given the tickets away, they might be able to get them back for us."Full Story >>