Turn 2 Foundation celebrates success

Ninth annual dinner gala event raises $1,010,000

By Bryan Hoch, 06/13/2005

Sharlee Jeter, Tanya Timmerman, Derek Jeter and Dr. Charles Jeter pose during Monday's gala. (Christie Cowles/MLB.com)

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NEW YORK -- When Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter started the Turn 2 Foundation after his rookie season, he outlined the program with a simple mission: To help as many children as possible.

Now that Turn 2 has grown beyond even Jeter's wildest dreams, doling out $4.8 million to date in the group's Signature Programs, even the usually-unflappable Yankees captain is sometimes taken aback by the foundation's success.

"The ultimate goal was just to help out a few people," Jeter said. "This goes way above and beyond our expectations. Year after year, we're getting a lot of support. It keeps getting bigger and better."

Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation celebrated its ninth annual gala in the heart of Times Square on Monday, taking over the sixth floor of the Marriott Marquis for a night of "celebrating the classics," as the program's theme intoned.

And they did. Occupying one of the hotel's elegant ballrooms, the foundation's dinner party, which raised $1,010,000 on the evening, had no shortage of elbow-rubbing opportunities for guests.

ESPN's Chris Berman served as emcee and The Temptations Review, featuring Dennis Edwards was on hand to provide the musical heritage, while several of Jeter's current and former Yankees teammates -- Alex Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui, Gary Sheffield, Jorge Posada, Tino Martinez, Darryl Strawberry, Jim Leyritz and Cecil Fielder -- made notable cameos. Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and Yankee manager Joe Torre helped wrap up the evening's events by assisting Berman run a live auction consisting of one-of-a-kind Yankee memorabilia and experiences.

The event -- and the success of the Turn 2 Foundation -- are worth all of the effort and planning to Jeter, who can legitimately call the foundation a family affair. His father, Dr. S. Charles Jeter, serves as vice president; mom Dorothy Jeter is executive director; and sister Sharlee Jeter is the program director.

"A lot of people give back," Jeter said. "I just want it to be more involved on a personal level. I think it's fun when you get an opportunity to meet kids and make a difference the way the foundation does. It makes you feel good."

Posing for photos and signing autographs, Jeter's Yankees teammates would all agree: The real star of the evening was this year's Turn 2 MVP Award recipient, 18-year-old Tanya Timmerman from Kalamazoo, Mich.

When Jeter walked into a press conference room early Monday afternoon and spotted Timmerman standing tall in the center of the room, he could scarcely believe his eyes: Was this really little Tanya, the girl from Jeter's hometown?

It was. Deaf at birth, Timmerman overcame her challenges to become a standout student and a star athlete at Loy Norrix High School in Kalamazoo, gaining membership into the Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA) program and playing four years of Varsity softball and three years of Varsity basketball.

After beginning to learn sign language at nine months, Timmerman received a cochlear implant at age 4 and began playing Little League a year later, eventually becoming a softball pitcher, third baseman and shortstop for Loy Norrix.

She is poised to attend Grand Valley (Mich.) State University on a full scholarship in the fall, pursuing her dream of becoming a physician's assistant in pediatrics.

Asked who were her inspirations on the journey, Timmerman responded: "My mom. My dad. And Derek Jeter."

"The best part is seeing the results," Jeter said. "It's seeing Tanya coming back and getting an award, and seeing the success that's she's had. You know she's done well, and that makes you feel good."

Even more star students loom on the horizon from the Turn 2 Foundation and the Jeter's Leaders program, which has expanded to include programs in Kalamazoo, New York and now Tampa, Fla.

Coordinated largely by Sharlee Jeter, numerous events are on tap for Turn 2 through the summer, including baseball clinics in all five boroughs through June 18 and a getaway to New Jersey for inner-city kids next month.

"We think it's a real elite group of kids," Dr. Jeter said. "We have high expectations for them. These kids are motivated and are very good academically. They stay away from drugs and alcohol, and perform community service. These kids are on the ball."

Bryan Hoch is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Teens discussed promoting social change and healthy lifestyles at the 2011 Jeter's Leaders Leadership Conference. More »
Kids are encouraged and learn the game at the Turn 2 Foundation's 2012 Tampa Baseball Clinic at Port Tampa Community Center. More »
Since its launch in 1996, the Turn 2 Foundation has awarded more than $16 million in grants. More »
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