Yankees honor ex-trainers tied up by liver as part of HOPE Week gesture

Austin Wells and Aaron Boone are with ex-trainers Mike Sole and Jon Becker as part of the Yankees' HOPE Week celebration on June 18, 2024.
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NEW YORK — The New York Yankees honored two of their ex-trainers as part of their HOPE Week celebration. Interestingly, both shared a tie-up that is defined by a liver though they won honors for their use of social media for good.

In a heartwarming act of friendship and selflessness, a fortuitous encounter between two former Yankees athletic trainers culminated in a life-saving liver transplant. Mike Sole, aged 30, and Jon Becker, colleagues from their time in the Yankees’ Minor League system, embarked on an unexpected journey that would profoundly alter their lives.

Sole’s health took a serious downturn in May 2022, manifesting in debilitating symptoms such as fatigue, abdominal pain, jaundice, and mental cloudiness. Medical investigations revealed liver blood clots, and despite multiple surgeries, a lasting remedy remained elusive. His only ray of hope lay in a living liver transplant.

Becker, who had already rallied significant financial support through a GoFundMe campaign amounting to $25,000 for Sole’s medical expenses, discovered he shared the same blood type as his former comrade. Without hesitation, Becker volunteered to donate a portion of his liver. On October 31, 2023, both underwent a successful transplant surgery, marking the dawn of Sole’s renewed lease on life and underscoring the enduring power of friendship and altruism.

Mike Sole praised Jon Becker’s selflessness, marveling at his recovery from a severe illness that had cast doubts on his future just a year earlier. The two former Yankees athletic trainers reunited for the first time since Becker donated part of his liver to Sole, during the Yankees’ annual HOPE Week community outreach program.

Accompanied by manager Aaron Boone, reliever Michael Tonkin, and prospect Austin Wells, Sole and Becker ventured to the famed Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. There, they immersed themselves in local culture, crafting mozzarella at the Arthur Avenue Market, making cannolis at a nearby bakery, and enjoying a meal at the iconic Roberto’s Italian restaurant. The event aimed to spotlight the profound impact of selfless acts and inspire others to embrace the spirit of giving.

The Yankees organization sought to give Mike Sole and Jon Becker a genuine Arthur Avenue experience, which they had missed during their tenure with the team’s intake-testing unit amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Manager Aaron Boone commended Sole and Becker for their widespread popularity within the organization and emphasized the inspirational nature of their journey. Boone voiced his confidence that their friendship and the remarkable bond forged through the liver donation would serve as a beacon in the donor community, potentially saving lives in the years to come.

Yankees focus on constructive use of social media for HOPE Week

The Yankees commemorated the 15th anniversary of HOPE Week by spotlighting the constructive influence of social media, a first for the organization. Honorees were selected for their capacity to inspire, uplift, and unify others through acts of kindness on social media platforms.

MLB

Embracing this theme, the Yankees utilized their robust social media presence, which reaches a combined audience of 17.7 million followers, to raise awareness about organ donation. Throughout the day, the team shared informative content highlighting the significance of organ donation and directed followers to their campaign page in partnership with the nonprofit Donate Life America.

Through harnessing their extensive online community, the Yankees aim to motivate fans to register as potential organ donors, with the ultimate goal of saving lives through the influential reach of social media and the values of unity and compassion.

The Yankees discovered a deeply resonant narrative within their organization through Mike Sole and Jon Becker, who initially served as strength trainers in the team’s Minor Leagues during the late 2010s. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, their roles evolved significantly as they joined the “intake task force,” responsible for daily health screenings of Yankees personnel. Their bond strengthened to the extent that they even became roommates in 2020 and 2021.

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MLB

However, their lives became profoundly intertwined when Sole’s health declined, necessitating a liver transplant. Becker witnessed Sole’s remarkable transformation post-transplant, describing him as rejuvenated. Becker expressed a desire to share this life-altering journey with a global audience, underscoring that while not everyone may donate an organ, there are countless ways to support Donate Life initiatives. He considers himself fortunate to be part of Sole’s journey and hopes their experience will inspire others to make a positive impact.

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