HOPE Week began about 15 minutes ago, and what a way to start.
Mariano Rivera, Nick Swisher, Brett Gardner, Dustin Moseley, Kevin Long and Mike Harkey surprised 13-year-old quadruple amputee Jorge Grajales with a pool party in New Jersey.
Jorge and his foster parents, John and Faye Dyksen, live in North Haledon. Family friends hosted the pool party, where the Yankees players and coaches surprised Jorge. The group of friends and family will be invited to tonight’s game at Yankee Stadium where Jorge will throw out the first pitch.
As provided by the Yankees, here’s Jorge’s remarkable story:
When Jorge Grajales was an infant in Panama, a gangrenous infection left doctors with just one cruel option: amputation of all four limbs. His birth family immediately realized it could not provide him the expensive, technical care he would need as he grew older, most notably the resources required for prosthetic fittings and maintenance. With limited social assistance available in his home country, his future was bleak. In all likelihood, he would eventually have to become dependent on begging for survival.
It was at this point that John and Faye Dyksen of North Haledon, N.J., entered his life. At the time, they already had five children, ranging in age from 12 to 21. They volunteered to host Jorge through their involvement with Healing the Children, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to providing free medical care to needy children around the world. They had previously opened their hearts and home to two young girls with physical disabilities before Jorge’s plight came to their attention.
The original plan in June 1998 was for Jorge to spend six months with them while a charitable medical group made and fitted prosthetics for Jorge. Twelve years later, most people in North Haledon have come to know Jorge. Since age 3, he has spent three-fourths of each year with the Dyksens because he cannot receive the medical care he needs in his homeland. Summers are spent in Panama with his biological parents, brother and sister.
This fall, Jorge, now 13, begins eighth grade at High Mountain Middle School in North Haledon. He attends classes just like any other student and has learned to do almost anything without having hands, including writing, typing and playing video games. He loves swimming and soccer and spends his Friday evenings from November through March serving supper to the homeless at his local church.
“I think it has made a big difference to treat him as another one of my kids,” Faye said. “For the most part, I encouraged him to do everything that anyone else can do. He has a lot of things to overcome, but God has given him the personality to make him soar.”