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Girardi, Yankees roll up their sleeves for Day 2 of 2016 HOPE Week

Skipper one of four Yankees Cleaning For A Reason

NEW YORK -- When Debbie Sardone started her "Buckets & Bows Maid Service" in suburban Dallas in the late-1980s, she never expected a business idea that began out of the trunk of her car would ever lead her to the Big Apple.

But that is exactly what happened on Tuesday as Sardone and her "Cleaning For A Reason" efforts were the Yankees' honorees on Day 2 of 2016's HOPE Week.

"About 20 years ago, a lady who had cancer called Debbie and asked for a quote; Debbie gave her the number, and the woman said 'I can't afford it, I'm going through chemo,' and hung up," Yankees' manager Joe Girardi explained in his pre-game press conference Tuesday. "We didn't have caller ID in those days, but Debbie thought to herself 'never again'; her father died of cancer and her mother was a cancer survivor, and that day she decided that anyone who called that was dealing with cancer and couldn't afford a cleaning, she'd do it for free."

That's how "Cleaning For A Reason" was born in 1996 and while speaking at a conference a decade later, Sardone had several maid services tell her they wanted to be a part of the efforts. Flash forward to 2016, and there are now 1,200 companies in the U.S. and Canada donating their time and efforts to "Cleaning For A Reason," with 21,000 cancer patients (and counting) having received cleanings.

Among those 21,000-plus is 34-year-old mother of two and Bronx native Marybell Ruiz, who has Stage 4 colon cancer. Ruiz thought she and her husband were just getting an ordinary housecleaning on Tuesday, but instead, she found Girardi, Carlos Beltran, Starlin Castro, and Jacoby Ellsbury at her door ready to help Sardone and her volunteer team from local company "Spotless Services" get the job done.

"The Yankees players made her feel like a million bucks," Sardone said of Ruiz. "She's a huge Yankees' fan, and her spirits were so lifted. I was amazed at how kind and gentle and genuine they were; they really wanted to help her with her house and make her feel special today. They were there for her, they weren't there for themselves."

Sardone and the entire Ruiz family were at Yankee Stadium Tuesday night to throw out the ceremonial first pitches and watch the Yankees play the Angels, and another special person was in attendance for all of the day's activities, too: nine-year-old Lena Girardi, the youngest child of Joe Girardi.

"I've taken her to the last few HOPE Week events because I think it's important that she understands the meaning of giving back," Girardi said. "It's important she see what people go through, the hard times, and how such a simple idea can blossom into something so beautiful."

And while it may not show up on the footage that YES Network airs later in the season during the 2016 HOPE Week Remembered special, there is one thing this reporter's eye caught that merits special attention: while helping clean the Ruiz home, Joe Girardi definitely took special care while dusting some baseball trophies inside the apartment.

He was, you could say, Cleaning For A Reason.

"It's pretty special," Girardi said of the day. "It's something that touched Debbie's heart, it started with just her doing it herself and it became quite an idea. I think it's great."

For more on Cleaning For A Reason and Yankees HOPE Week, visit their websites at cleaningforareason.org and hopeweek.com.