SAN DIEGO -- Katie Parker of Rapid City, S.D., had no breast abnormalities that she could feel and no family history. So in 2010 when she took advantage of the free mammogram that her medical clinic offered, Parker figured she'd have baseline images for when she would begin yearly mammograms at age 40. She had no idea breast cancer would be detected.
Parker used her unexpected diagnosis as impetus to educate others, and the Rockies recognized her for doing so by naming her their 2016 Honorary Bat Girl. On Mother's Day, MLB formally recognizes the fight against breast cancer with pregame and in-game attention for awareness and fundraising as part of Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer -- an MLB initiative supported by MLB charitable partners, Stand Up To Cancer and Susan G. Komen.
With the Rockies on the road on Sunday, they will honor Parker at a yet-to-be-announced date.
• Honorary Bat Girl contest
"By the way, this was against the advice of my primary care doctor who wanted me to wait at least a year," Parker said in her essay submission, in which she emphasized yearly screenings. "Obviously, breast cancer isn't what I wanted, but it was exactly what I needed. It gave me a passion to educate others on the importance of early detection and being their own best advocate, and now that I am almost six years on the other side, the art of survivorship.
"It's been my honor to host a fundraiser called Bras for a Cause, with proceeds going towards research and participating in research trials regarding breast cancer in young women."
Parker's essay was among the many that were submitted for this year's contest. One honoree was picked to represent each of the 30 MLB teams.
A panel of judges, including special guest judges, chose winning submissions based on originality, quality of writing, demonstration of commitment to breast cancer awareness and public appeal (as determined by online fan votes). Health & wellness expert and star of Just Jillian on E! Network, Jillian Michaels; as well as the Giants' Gregor Blanco, the Rangers' Robinson Chirinos, the White Sox's Zach Duke; the Braves' Freddie Freeman, the Orioles' Kevin Gausman, the Mets' Curtis Granderson, the Brewers' Jeremy Jeffress, the Dodgers' Scott Kazmir, the Mariners' Taijuan Walker, the Angels' Jered Weaver, Sam Ryan and Chris Rose of MLB Network and Lindsay Berra and Alyson Footer of MLB.com served as guest judges for the contest. Michaels is an ambassador for Stand Up To Cancer, a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization.
Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.