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On Thursday, New York Yankee pitcher and Vallejo High School graduate CC Sabathia showed up at his former school to give back to the community as part of the PitCCh IN Foundation for a pep rally and school supply giveaway.

In total, they gave away 1,800 backpacks and other supplies. The foundation in total has given away over 47,000 backpacks since its formation—Thursday was the first time to High School students.

The event also featured a career panel which provided advice to students which included retired MMA fighter Mark Munoz. It also featured Fran Boller, Senior Vice President of Haddad Brands, Nor Jemjemian, Senior Vice President/Area Manager for Kaiser Permanente in the Napa-Solano Area along with both CC and Amber Sabathia.

CC Sabathia addressed the school highlighting how he was a graduate of the school and he was excited to be back.

“This is surreal for me, I graduated in 1998 and I am a Vallejo kid. To be able to come back and do this rally for you all is a great thing,” explained Sabathia. “Me and Amber (Sabathia) started the PitCCh IN Foundation for this, to give back to the community and really see you kids excited. I am just excited to be out here.”

Superintendent Adam Clark explained they wanted the students to see themselves in the panelist.

CC and Amber Sabathia

“We want you to see yourself in any one of them, or any one of the positive adults in your lives” said Clark.”

During the panel discussion, Jemjemian explained how when he was in High School, he didn’t have everything figured out and that was okay.

“I didn’t have a mentor or anyone to look up to, all I knew was play ball and hang out,” said Jemjemian.

“I had something in my life happen where reality set in with what is going on in my life and what was going to happen. My counselor really helped me see the light which got me here today.”

Munoz explained how mentors are the key to success.

“I always say that whoever you surround yourself around you become,” explained Munoz. “You become whoever you surround yourself around. My story comes from the very shoes I am wearing on my feet. I have some J’s on my feet, but in 8th grade I got jumped for my J’s left bloodied and battered. I didn’t want to go to school for a few days.”

Mark Munoz, retired MMA Fighter

Munoz continue to explain people asked where his J’s were until he couldn’t told a friend what happened and from there he was introduced to wrestling.

“Wrestling led me to a scholarship because I surrounded myself around people who truly cared about me that wanted to push me athletically, push me academically, a coach that helped me was Mike Minahen who helped me become the person I am today,” said Munoz. “If you are around people who make you do things you don’t want to do, but you feel like doing it because you get peer pressure, you need to find another group. You need people to push you forward to the things that are going to be successful in the future.”

Boller spoke about rejection and overcoming it noting how she worked 10-years for a company before NIKE recruited her.

“It’s really all about hard work and passion. Basketball and sports were my passion so the way I look at it was what I am doing now is sports and fashion and I couldn’t be in a better place,” said Boller. “It was all about hard work and perseverance because it wasn’t easy. It was a lot of rejection along the way and you have to stay strong because there is a lot of rejection.”

Dr. Clark asked Amber Sabathia how high school experiences shaped the things she does on a daily basis.

“Being a cheerleader and out in front of a crowd helped me now talking to large groups not being scared,” said Sabathia. “In high school even standing in front of a classroom with 20 people having to do a presentation, I was terrified of those things. That scares you but the world is big. It is a big world out there so you have to remember not to be scared and giving it your best. Stand out in front of a crowd and keep going.”

Sabathia further explained how she is a big advocate of getting involved in programs because there are so many programs available to people if they look for them.

CC Sabathia

Dr. Clark explained how being on time and showing up everyday is key to success and asked CC Sabathia to explain the importance of time and what commitment looks like.

“Time is a big thing. I’ve never been late in 18-years as far as baseball wise. We have spring training at 7:45 am, during the season its 2:00 pm stretch, 3:30 pm stretch I am there on time every day,” said Sabathia. “That started here. I had a coach here, he turned me into a professional at 14-year-olds teaching me things that I needed to know about playing baseball, playing football, basketball, just being an athlete in taking care of my body and really working at it and putting my effort into school and being a leader. It carried through to this day and now I feel like I am one of the leaders on the Yankees. It starts at a young age. It’s going to shape you for the future.”

He encouraged people to find a mentor who is doing the right thing.

To close out the event, the music group SOB X RBE performed.

All photographs from the event are on our Facebook Page.


About the PitCCh In Foundation

The PitCCh In Foundation established the Youth Backpack Program to help alleviate the families’ financial burden of getting school supplies and helps kids start the year on the right note. The program provides backpacks and supplies to kids in communities most in need throughout Vallejo, CA and Bronx, NY.

On the West Coast, CC’s mom, Margie Sabathia-Lanier, serves as the Foundation representative to present backpacks filled with school supplies to all first and second graders in the Vallejo City Unified School District. On the East Coast, Amber and CC distribute to elementary schools and nonprofits in the Bronx.

Over 47,000 backpacks filled with schools supplies have been distributed to youth. The program saves each family approximately $110 in supplies and backpack.

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