NEW YORK -- Renee Heine has been selected as the Yankees' winner of the 2016 Honorary Bat Girl contest, which recognizes fans who have been affected by breast cancer and who demonstrate a commitment to supporting the fight against the disease.
Heine, of Wayne, N.J., was diagnosed with cancer in April 2012 at age 37, and has endured surgery, radiation treatment and many medications in the years that have followed. She will be recognized on-field at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, prior to the Yankees' 8:05 p.m. ET game against the Red Sox.
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"My love for baseball and the New York Yankees allowed me a wonderful distraction from the stress and anxiety I was undergoing during treatment," Heine said. "Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, and all the other boys gave me the chance to relax and enjoy time not thinking about cancer."
Heine joined a support group for women under 40 with breast cancer and participates in walks that raise funds and awareness for breast cancer use. She advocates that women between the ages of 35 and 40 demand a baseline mammogram from their doctors.
"My baseline saved my life," Heine said. "Who knows what my cancer would have been if my doctor had waited until I was 40?"
Fans from across the United States and in Canada shared inspirational stories of hope and motivation in their experiences in the fight against breast cancer, as well as the reasons they, or their nominees, should represent their favorite team.
Winners have been selected to represent each Major League club, and the winners' stories can be found on HonoraryBatGirl.com.
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.
The winners were selected by a panel of judges, including special guest judges, who chose the winning submissions based on the following criteria: originality, quality of writing, demonstration of commitment to breast cancer awareness and public appeal (as determined by online fan votes).
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.