Dodgers a big part of bat girl's battle with cancer

DENVER -- Clara Gonzales of Los Angeles was selected as a winner of MLB's Honorary Bat Girl contest, which recognizes fans who have been affected by breast cancer and demonstrate a commitment to eradicating the disease.

Gonzales was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in May 2014. Ten days after her diagnosis, she faced unemployment and a lack of health insurance. Gonzales was able to receive support from the Susan G. Komen Foundation and began chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

She is a lifelong Dodger fan who wore Dodgers blue and a Dodgers wig during chemotherapy sessions, and despite her illness she attends games regularly. Gonzales will throw the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game against Colorado on May 17.

She will also be presented with a customized jersey by Majestic Athletic and an engraved full-sized pink bat from Louisville Slugger.

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 seven 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 a Major League Baseball initiative supported by MLB charitable partners, Stand Up To Cancer and Susan G. Komen. This initiative raises awareness about the breast cancer cause, while also raising funds to support breast cancer research.

On Mother's Day, players and on-field personnel wear the symbolic pink ribbon on their uniforms along with pink wrist bands. Commemorative base jewels and dugout lineup cards are also pink. Games feature a pink-stitched Rawlings baseball, the official ball of MLB, as the official game ball.

Many MLB players also use pink bats, and pink Louisville Slugger bats, the Official Bat of Major League Baseball, will be stamped with the MLB breast cancer awareness logo. Many authenticated, game-used Louisville Slugger pink bats from Mother's Day games will be auctioned exclusively on MLB.com to benefit the fight against breast cancer.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.