Turn 2 Foundation celebrates 10th anniversary

Jeter's youth outreach organization helps kids

By Ryan Mink / MLB.com

Derek Jeter's Turn 2 Foundation reaches out to underprivileged youth. (Kenji Takabayashi/MLB.com)

06/29/2006 10:15 PM ET

•   Photo Gallery  Photo gallery »
•     Dinner montage: 56K | 350K
•     Derek thanks the attendees: 56K | 350K
•     Lee, Torre and Ali honored: 56K | 350K
•     Dave Winfield honored: 56K | 350K
•     Adele Smithers introduced: 56K | 350K
•     Joe Buck emcees event: 56K | 350K

NEW YORK -- When asked his age by Christopher D. Smithers Foundation president Adele Smithers-Fornaci on Thursday, 32-year-old Derek Jeter lied in saying he’s 28-years-old.

It was a shame, Smithers-Fornaci said, because she was ready to write a check giving $1,000 for every year of his life in honor of his birthday this past Monday.

Jeter piped up.

"Well, then I'm 42," he said, igniting laughter throughout the room.

On the 10-year anniversary of his annual Turn 2 Foundation dinner, Jeter is looking for every cent he can get for charity. The first-ever Turn 2 dinner was held at the All-Star Café. Thursday's dinner was quite an upgrade to the Marriott Marquis Times Square.

Jeter was accepted the check from the Christopher D. Smithers Foundation, which is dedicated to prevent alcoholism, on behalf of his own Turn 2 Foundation. Jeter's foundation, which he is the president of, gives money to signature programs such as Phoenix House to motivate young people to turn away from drugs and alcohol.

Jeter's foundation recently donated $1 million to Phoenix House to launch the Derek Jeter Academy in Tampa, Fla. The center, which doesn't have a start date but is expected to be open by the end of the year, will serve as a residential high school for teens. Jeter's foundation has donated about $6 million over 10 years.

But for all the money, it's the personal touch that Jeter most cherishes.

"Probably the most gratifying thing is getting the opportunity to see the kids and talk to them and hear their stories about how we impacted their lives and touched them," Jeter said.

Jeter honored Dave Winfield at the dinner. Winfield was Jeter's inspiration when he was a child. These days, Winfield participates in Jeter's events to help raise money.

"I have a son and a daughter, and they're growing up," Winfield said. "We look at baseball quite a bit. I say, 'Now here's a guy you want to look at. If you want to look at somebody and follow what they do intently, look at a guy like Derek.'"

Spike Lee and Joe Torre were also honored at the event. Muhammad Ali could not be there. But Smithers-Fornaci didn't let the room get quiet -- wearing a worn Yankees hat and jersey, and even Yankees shoes, she continued to pour the praise on the Yankees captain.

"Derek is very special in that he is a true, typical role model," she said. "He has a quiet charisma that affects everybody. I know an 86-year-old woman who is his biggest fan. And I know a 5-year-old boy who is his biggest fan. He has the same effect."

Torre recalled his own story about Jeter. It was in 1996 right after Jeter won the Rookie of the Year Award. The Yankees were in Toronto when Torre called Jeter into his office.

"I'm thinking, 'He's 20-years-old, he won Rookie of the Year, he's single, he's in New York," Torre said. "I better talk to this kid. He gave me all the right answers ... and he just followed up with all the answers."

Jeter had the right answer for Smithers-Fornaci when she announced her donation. He wanted as much money for his foundation as possible. He even said billionaire Warren Buffett could toss some money his way.

But for as much growth as the foundation has had, Jeter said he isn't looking to expand to any more than its three locations, which are in Michigan, New York and Tampa.

"The foundation is bigger and better than I ever thought it would be, dreamt it would be," Jeter said. "I don't know how much bigger and better we can, but hopefully we can."

Ryan Mink is an associate reporter for 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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