Tonight, John Lahutsky will throw out the first ball at the New York Yankees baseball game.
Lahutsky, whose Boy from Babyhouse 10 autobiography chronicled his life from his abandonment to a Moscow orphanage for incurable children to his rescue and emigration to the United States where he has been living in Bethlehem Township with Paula Lahutsky. Lola Schirra of Jim Thorpe went to Russia to help Paula bring John to the US. Their story was picked up by Dateline on television and ran in an April 2011 story in The TIMES NEWS
Three years ago, the Yankees began an annual HOPE Week (Helping Others Persevere & Excel)-an initiative rooted in the belief that acts of goodwill provide hope and encouragement to more than just the recipient of the gesture. Each day during HOPE Week, the Yankees reach out to an individual, family or organization worthy of recognition and support.
"HOPE Week is about people helping people," notes the Yankees press release. "The one thing everybody has, no matter where they come from, what their financial situation is, or what kind of skills they possess, is time. By involving every one of our players and coaches during our celebration of HOPE Week, we are sending the message that everyone can give of themselves to make their community a better place."
At a time when nonprofit organizations are having difficulty raising funds, the Yankees hope that the publicity generated will increase interest, awareness and support. "The Yankees encourage all their fans to get involved-Give HOPE!" they note.
During 2011's five-day HOPE Week, the recipients are: July 25 - Daniel Trush - who heals through music, July 26 - Tuesday's Children - a post 9/11 healing group, July 27 - The Haitian Refugee effort of St.s Joachim and Anne's School, July 28 -Megan Ajello - who helped raise funds for the Special Olympics, and on July 29 - John Lahutsky.
Lahutsky is a huge fan of the Yankees and is a member of both the Lehigh Valley Yankee Fan Club and is on the Board of Directors of the Miracle League of Northampton County. The Miracle League provides an opportunity to play baseball for children with special needs.
Paula and John Lahutsky, Lola Schirra, and Chuck Frantz of the Lehigh Valley Yankee Fan Club will be traveling to New York. On Friday morning, John will be interviewed on the Today Show by Matt Lauer, where he will be reunited with Andrei, and will meet Yankees manager Joe Girardi. Afterwards, they will travel to Yankee Stadium where John and Andrei will spend the afternoon with Yankees players Mark Teixeira and Brett Gardner. That evening John and Andrei will throw out the ball to start the New York versus Baltimore game.
Born in Russia in 1990, John Lahutsky, who is now a 21 years old, never knew his father and was abandoned by his alcoholic mother. Before being adopted by Paula Lahutsky, he was known as Vanya. Vanya was turned over to the state childcare system by his mother when he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.
Vanya was sent to an orphanage called Baby House 10. Isolated from the world since birth, a mental evaluation at the age of three years labeled him mentally retarded and he was locked away in an asylum where he lived, almost caged on a locked ward surrounded by psychotic adults.
Vanya was a persistent young boy who reached out to everyone around him. Two of those he reached out to-Sarah Philps, the wife of British journalist, Alan Philps; and Vika, a young Russian woman-were touched by Vanya, and they began a campaign to find him a home.
Vanya's only friend at Babyhouse 10 was a boy named Andrei, who was adopted in 1997-two years before Paula Lahutsky would adopt Vanya. (Vanya) John and Andrei, who haven't met since their separation, will have a surprise reunion on that Friday morning's Today show.
John, an honor roll student at Freedom High School in Bethlehem, received a standing ovation from his class at his June 2011 graduation. He plans to continue his education at Northampton Community College. In addition to his involvement with his church, school and the Boy Scouts, John has an insatiable appetite for vintage television shows and movies, holding dear a dream of someday working in film production