New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter reached out to the mother of a teacher killed in the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary school last week, offering his condolences over the phone to a woman described in her eulogy as being a big fan of the Yankees.
According to The New York Daily News, Donna Soto, mother of Victoria, received a phone call on Wednesday from Jeter, the same day she laid her child to rest in a funeral. A cousin of the family said that Donna found the conversation to be “uplifting” during a most difficult time:
“Vicki loved the Yankees — that was part of her eulogy. No one in the family reached out, so (Jeter) must have heard about it and … reached out. “It was a surprise and unexpected. Donna was ecstatic over it and very happy. She spoke to him for quite some time. [I]’m happy that it brought some comfort … People like Jeter have reached out. It brings some comfort to know that people recognize Vicki as a hero.”
Jeter joins a number of other professional athletes who have reached out to victims in the wake of last week’s historic tragedy. Twenty-six people were killed when Adam Lanza, a 20-year-old armed with guns, stormed into the Connecticut elementary school, eventually taking his own life. New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz met on Tuesday with the family of 6-year-old Jack Pinto, a fan of Cruz and the Giants. Pinto was one of 20 children killed last week at the school. Also on Tuesday, Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson reached out to 11-year-old Jack McDonnell after he lost his younger sister, Grace, in the shooting, according to USA Today Sports.
“Jack seems like a really nice kid. It’s really a great family, really, and my heart goes out to them. It’s a situation where I just want to lift the family up, or lift anyone up who is going through such a tough time. Anything possible I can do to lift their spirits up a little bit, that’s all I want to do.”
Johnson wrote the names of each of the 26 victims on his cleats before the Titans played the New York Jets on Dec. 17. Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder also paid tribute to the victims, writing “Newtown, CT” on his sneakers for a game last week, hours after the shooting.