Yankees kick off HOPE Week

NEW YORK -- Nick Swisher stood on the stage of a Broadway theater in Midtown on Monday, a few miles from Yankee Stadium and a million miles removed from the pressure of playing pro ball in the Bronx.

Swisher was singing and dancing along with Daniel Trush and members of his organization, Daniel's Music Foundation, to kick of the Yankees' third installment of HOPE Week.

Probably the most gregarious personality in the Yankees' clubhouse, Swisher was right in his element, hamming it up with the rest of the DMF Foundation as they performed a few songs at the Brooks Atkinson Theater.

"To be able to see the kids and the people that are here, who might not have the same opportunities that I have, and to be able to come here and put smiles on their face ... it's just an amazing time man," said Swisher, who appeared on stage with and Yankees teammates Chris Dickerson, Russell Martin and Francisco Cervelli. "It puts things in perspective."

It was only appropriate that the Yankees chose to perform music on Broadway to celebrate with Daniel Trush and the foundation that bears his name.

Not long ago, it was music that helped the 25-year-old get through a month-long coma and near year-long hospital stint, the result of a ruptured brain aneurysm.

One March afternoon in 1997, Trush was playing basketball at the Dalton School in the Upper East Side of Manhattan with his father, Ken, when he grabbed his head in pain.

Ken initially thought Daniel was upset because he'd missed a shot. Unfortunately, it wasn't that simple.

One of five undiagnosed arterial brain aneurysms had burst inside Daniel's head.

Initially doctors at Beth Israel Hospital feared that the aneurysms were terminal.

"There was no oxygen or blood going to brain for 20 minutes," Ken said. "On the second night (of Daniel's hospital stay), I was awoken by doctors and they told me, 'He's not going to make it.' They told me to get my wife and come right over."

Daniel made it through that night thanks to an emergency procedure that relieved pressure on his brain. But it was the beginning of a long road to recovery. Daniel was in a coma for 30 days and spent 341 days in the hospital, most of them in an incapacitated state.

In the first couple of nights of the hospital stay, Ken, inspired by the beeps of the medical equipment helping to keep his son alive, decided to play music in the hospital room.

He'd play the songs "Reach" and "I'm Not Giving You Up," by Gloria Estefan constantly.

"The interesting thing was we lost that CD and about three months later my wife bought it again and Danny knew all the words even though he was in a coma," Ken said.

Music remained a constant throughout Daniel's recovery. After Daniel graduated high school, he took musical classes at Hunter College in Manhattan.

"You only need one thing in life that you love ... and for Daniel it was music," he said.

So Ken was uninspired and upset when therapists and members of special-needs agencies recommended that Daniel wash dishes or perform other maintenance work due to his disability.

Recognizing his son's passion for song, the Trush family started a foundation in 2006 that provided free musical instruction to people with disabilities. It started as a five-student organization and has grown now to 150 students of all ages, plus a sizeable waiting list.

"I didn't know where it was going to go, my family didn't know where it was going to go, but it's been a real blessing for everyone involved," Ken said.

Most members of Daniel's Music Foundation were on hand to perform with the Yankees on Monday afternoon. The concert started with Daniel performing a song he'd written -- "Daniel's Thank You Song" -- along with former Yankees center fielder and professional guitarist Bernie Williams.

"I was in total shock. It was amazing," Daniel said.

Martin, Dickerson, Swisher and Cervelli also joined in as Daniel's Music Foundation performed "New York, New York" and Sister Sledge's "We are Family." The Yankees announced they'd be donating $10,000 to Daniel's Music Foundation at the end of the performance.

"It's just been an amazing time," Swisher said. "It's such a blessing to be here and to meet all of these kids."

Daniel later went to Yankee Stadium and threw out the first pitch to Martin. He also sang the national anthem along with other DMF members before the Bombers' Monday night 10-3 win against Seattle to kick off the Yankees' HOPE Week, which highlights individuals, families or organizations worthy of recognition and support.

"It's surreal," Ken said of the experience. "This is something none of us will ever forget."

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.