Padres to celebrate honorary bat girl

PHOENIX -- Ana Munoz is the Honorary Bat Girl for the San Diego Padres and will be recognized by the club prior to its next home game on Thursday night against the Nationals at Petco Park.

Major League Baseball announced the winners for each club Sunday as part of the Pink Bat Mother's Day initiative. The contest recognizes baseball fans, who've been affected by breast cancer and demonstrate a commitment to eradicating the disease.

Like all of the other 29 winners, Munoz will receive pink MLB merchandise and will be hosted at the game with her family. Having lost her mother to the same disease in 2007, Munoz was no stranger to the effects and hardships of breast cancer.

A single mother of a then-8-year-old son, Munoz was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 31. After breaking the news to her son and seeing his fearful reaction, she says she drew upon the strength of her mother to do everything she could to ensure that tragedy would not strike the family a second time.

"I felt such pain in my heart," said Munoz in her nomination essay. "So I decided to do something and I gained my mother's strength and I refused to allow this cancer to take control over me nor allow it to take my life."

Following chemotherapy, radiation and five years of hormonal therapy, Muñoz was declared cancer free and says her mother and family played a big part in it:

"They needed me and most importantly, my son needed me. I am a survivor and so proud of it. I know my mommy is proud," she said.

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.

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.