Gross excited to be Twins' Honorary Bat Girl

Gross excited to be Twins' Honorary Bat Girl

MINNEAPOLIS -- When her mother, Joyce Jezierski, was diagnosed with breast cancer, Julie Gross searched for ways to honor her by fundraising and bringing awareness to the cause.

On Friday, Gross was the one being honored as the Twins' Honorary Bat Girl -- one of 30 women recognized by Major League Baseball.

"I'm so blessed and I'm so thankful. I'm very, very heartwarmed," Gross said.

Gross and her daughters Ashley and Aili Balaich nicknamed themselves the "Pink Ladies," and participate in events all over the Duluth, Minn., area, including Relay for Life and the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk.

They also brought "pink the rink," a breast cancer awareness event to high school hockey and have raised breast cancer awareness during the Polar Plunge, diving into Lake Superior's frigid water in February the past four years.

Gross' mother passed away two days before Mother's Day in 2013. Jezierski was a 15-year breast cancer survivor before her cancer returned and she passed away from various health issues.

Since then, Gross and her family have kept Jezierski's memory alive by continuing their dedication to the cause.

When Gross first found out about the honor in March, she started crying at work.

"As I like to say, I didn't have any more questions, I just needed to hang up the phone so I could scream because I was so excited," Gross said. "I was so honored. It's so incredible."

As longtime Twins fans, Gross and her family make the trip south from Duluth to Target Field around six times per season.

But this time was special.

"It's all become our labor of love," Gross said. "It's just a way to dedicate it to my mom and keep her memory alive. It'll never leave us, but it'll help."

Betsy Helfand is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.