Mother's Day is Sunday, and for Melissa Rupert of Liberty Township, Ohio, it will be the first one to celebrate as the mother of a baby boy named Noah.
"He's my entire world," Rupert said. "Every day, I hold my baby boy as tightly as he'll let me and remind myself that he is my rock and my joy, and I barely think about ... breast cancer."
Her Mother's Day will be even more meaningful, because the 35-year-old Reds fan will be recognized on the field at Great American Ball Park as one of 30 winners who were named Monday afternoon by Major League Baseball in the 2015 Honorary Bat Girl contest.
The annual contest recognizes baseball fans who have been affected by breast cancer and who demonstrate a commitment to eradicating the disease. Winners selected to represent each club will be recognized on the field at Major League ballparks this Sunday or on an alternative date in May for clubs that are away. Go to honorarybatgirl.com to see the winners and to read the inspiring stories of courage by all the nominees.
"After being told that I have Stage 1 triple negative breast cancer, I remind myself every day that I am not a statistic. I am me," Rupert wrote in her submission entry. "My outcome will be my outcome. My story is mine, and I am not a number. So, here I am. A new mom, a business owner and an avid volunteer. I don't have time to think about the 'what-ifs.' There is no alternative. I'm in it to win it."
During MLB's annual Mother's Day national day of recognition, the Honorary Bat Girl winners will take part in pregame activities, be honored during an on-field ceremony and receive pink MLB merchandise, with two tickets to the game.
On Mother's Day, players and on-field personnel will wear the symbolic pink ribbon on their uniforms, along with pink wrist bands. Commemorative base jewels and dugout lineup cards also will be pink. The games will feature a pink-stitched Rawlings baseball. Many players also will use pink bats, and pink Louisville Slugger bats will be stamped with the MLB breast cancer awareness logo. Many authenticated, game-used Louisville Slugger pink bats from these games will be listed exclusively at the MLB.com Auction to help fight breast cancer.
The Honorary Bat Girl program was introduced in 2009 to raise additional awareness and support for the annual "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" initiative celebrated on Mother's Day. In six years, thousands of unique testimonials have been submitted, and more than two million fan votes have been cast. Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer is an MLB initiative supported by its charitable partners Stand Up To Cancer and Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.