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Yankees HOPE Week Honoree: Autumn Blinn

by Greg Tucker

When 10-year-old Autumn Blinn’s grandmother taught her to sew, they decided to make a pillow for her grandfather John Santiago, who undergoes kidney dialysis three times a week at a Utica, NY, hospital. After John asked her to make another to rest his arm on during his treatments, Autumn was inspired to use her skills to make “Pillows of Love” for as many people as possible.

During the last year, she has made approximately 200 pillows for sick children and adults. Autumn has donated pillows to dialysis and pediatric patients at Faxton St. Luke’s in Utica, residents of the Rome Memorial Hospital facility in her hometown, and for children at both the Ronald McDonald House in Syracuse, and Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx.

“I hope that when people are sick, it will take their minds off of it,” said Autumn. “I don’t want them to feel pain, and I want them to remember that they’re not alone.”

‘Always Looking to Make People’s Lives Better’

Autumn sews pillows during her free time between school, sports, and spending time with her siblings, Justin, 8, and Thomas, 7, and Isabella, 4.

“Autumn has an independent spirit, and she is always looking to make people’s lives better,” said her mother, Kara Snell. “She embraces her role of big sister so much that it extends outside of her own family.”

Autumn’s mother and father are both deaf, and the entire family uses American Sign Language to communicate in the home.

“I was so proud that Autumn committed to this,” said her grandmother, Shari Santiago. “Her empathy toward others seems far beyond her years.”

“We teach her that it’s better to give than to receive, but that’s already in her nature,” said John.


VIDEO: Yankees players discuss handing out Autumn Blinn's Pillows of Love at the Ronald McDonald House, and Autumn throws out the first pitch during the July 9 game.


About HOPE Week

Now in its fifth year, the New York Yankees HOPE Week recognizes individuals and organizations whose acts of goodwill provide hope and encouragement to the community. Honorees are visited in their communities by Yankee players and staff, and attend the night's game as guests of the team.

The Corporation for National and Community Service partners with the New York Yankees to present each HOPE Week honoree with the President's Volunteer Service Award. The Yankees and CNCS hope the honorees' stories send the message that everyone can serve to make their community a better place.

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