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Yankees get dance lessons from Hunterdon Huskies Contender Cheerleaders in latest HOPE Week visit

Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda sits with members of

Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda sits with members of the Hunterdon Huskies Contender Cheerleaders, a dance group for special needs girls, during a HOPE Week visit to the Jawonio Health Center in New City, N.Y., on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015. Photo Credit: Newsday / Sal Cacciatore

NEW CITY, N.Y. -- HOPE Week continued Thursday, as Yankees players paid a visit to the Hunterdon Huskies Contender Cheerleaders, a dance group for special needs girls.

Michael Pineda, Andrew Miller, Chasen Shreve and other representatives from the team surprised the girls Thursday morning at the Jawonio Health Center and were treated to a show from the group.

"It was neat. It's a really great program," Miller said. "These girls had a lot of fun ... you could tell they put a lot of work into it."

"Everyone was excited and we were excited to be here," Shreve said.

Later, the girls taught the players a routine, but perhaps the Yankees should stick to baseball. "It was embarrassing because I know how terrible I was at it," Miller said. "It just showed how good the girls are. But it was a lot of fun and I'm glad we made the trip."

"I'm very happy to come here and support the kids and make the kids happy today," Pineda said. "For me, for my heart, I feel good coming here and having a good time with the kids."

After the show, Yankees general partner/vice chairperson Jennifer Steinbrenner Swindal presented a check for $5,000 to both the Hunterdon Huskies Contender Cheerleaders and the Jawonio Center.

The Hunterdon Huskies Contender Cheerleaders began cheering five years ago, and are one of five cheer teams affiliated with the Huskies organization.

"It's so magical ... and it's unbelievable we get to share this part of our life with the New York Yankees," said Debbie House, the group's founder and cheer coach.

House said the Yankees approached her about this opportunity six weeks ago. "I nearly dropped the phone," she said. "It was not real until we got here today."

"It was so fun that they were so willing to share with us," House said of the players. "You watch them on TV and they're larger than life. Then they come here and they're being silly with the girls. It was fantastic."

She also said that the girls in the group are special "because they're just like everyone else ... When they cheer, they're really talented. That's something that really strikes people ... They practice really hard. I expect a lot out of them and they give it to me."

"It's one of those things you come and give a little bit of time, it makes you feel better [and] it makes you gain a little perspective," Miller said. "You get to see these girls having a great time and you get to acknowledge some of the people who put together these programs. It's rewarding."


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