Toronto recognizes Bat Girl Riccio's courage

Blue Jays fan shares message, appreciates MLB's support of breast cancer awareness

Toronto recognizes Bat Girl Riccio's courage

TORONTO -- Michelle Riccio took a deep breath, stepped onto the field with a big smile on her face and looked out at a sold-out Rogers Centre crowd giving her a standing ovation.

Riccio was presented with flowers and given a pink Blue Jays jersey as the team's Honorary Bat Girl prior to Toronto's 4-2 loss to the Dodgers on Sunday. She took in the game with her husband, Michael, and her 4-year-old son, Taylor.

Diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer (MBC) in 2014, Riccio has courageously battled through chemotherapy, blood transfusions, hair loss and anxiety in the years that have followed.

As a lifelong Blue Jays fan -- she can recall almost every detail of the 1992 and '93 World Series championship teams -- Riccio leans on her loving family and passion for the the Blue Jays to continue to perservere and live her life.

"I wish I didn't qualify for the contest, but I am so happy the Jays and MLB are so supportive of breast cancer awareness and research, and hopefully, one day, their will be a cure to this disease," she said.

"Being on the field, that was incredible. I don't know how these guys do it every day, but it was overwhelming. Having my son and my husband with me to share that moment was awesome."

Blue Jays proud to show support in pink

Riccio's family had the opportunity to meet several Blue Jays and Dodgers players before the game, with Toronto left-hander J.A. Happ and team mascot ACE presenting her with a jersey and flowers.

Although MBC is considered incurable, it hasn't stopped Riccio from continuing to do the things she's most passionate about. The 36-year-old attends all of Taylor's T-ball games, was a regular throughout the Blue Jays' postseason run in 2015 and is an avid blogger on social media.

In addition, Riccio volunteers with Stand Up To Cancer and Rethink Breast Cancer to help support other women with MBC. Nominated for MLB's Honorary Bat Girl program by her best friend, Mandy Khattra, and then selected by a panel of judges, Riccio had a heartwarming message to patients who are also affected and fighting a similar battle.

"I always look at is as if one moment turns to a day, which turns to a month, which turns into a year and then hopefully, decades. While everyone should be living in the moment, cancer unfortunately makes you realize that a little bit more. It's OK to have a bad day, but always try and recognize the beauty that is out there and all the people that love you and support you."

Across the league, players showed their support for breast cancer awareness with pink uniforms, which featured symbolic pink ribbons, and also wore pink shoes, pink batting gloves and used pink bats.

Authentic game-used Louisville Slugger pink bats and other gear from Mother's Day games will be auctioned exclusively at MLB.com, with proceeds benefiting the fight against breast cancer. The complete Mother's Day collection -- which includes the special caps and jerseys being worn by players on Sunday -- is available at the MLB.com Shop.

Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.