Brieanne Epke from Wichita has been named the Royals 2017 Honorary Bat Girl

Major League Baseball has announced the winners of the 2017 Honorary Bat Girl contest, which recognizes fans who have been affected by breast cancer and have demonstrated a commitment to battling the disease. 

The Honorary Bat Girl for the Kansas City Royals is BrieAnne Epke from Wichita.  A pediatric nurse and mother of two, BrieAnne was diagnosed with breast and brain cancer after suffering a stroke. While recovering from brain surgery, 15 chemotherapy treatments and a double mastectomy, she became ill and had complications, eventually forcing her to spend over a week in the hospital and endure months of physical therapy. Now a part of the Young Survival Coalition, she will be participating in the 2017 YSC Tour de Pink in October, raising money for breast cancer awareness.  On May 14, BrieAnne will be honored during a special on-field pregame presentation featuring breast cancer survivors affiliated with Susan G. Komen Greater Kansas City. In addition, the experts from the University of Kansas Health System will be on hand to promote Women's Health Awareness, including a special focus on breast cancer awareness.

During the Honorary Bat Girl contest entry timeline, fans from across the United States and Canada shared how they, or their loved ones, support the cause to raise awareness and find a cure for breast cancer. The winners were selected by a panel of judges, including special guests, who chose the winning submissions based on the following criteria: quality of writing and description of personal connection to breast cancer, demonstration of commitment to the battle against the disease and public appeal (as determined by online fan votes).

Royals Outfielder Alex Gordon, whose mother is a breast cancer survivor, served as special guest judge on the Honorary Bat Girl Selection Committee. Additional judges included the following: Uzo Aduba, Emmy Award-winning star of the hit Netflix series Orange Is the New Black and Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) ambassador,Brenda Song, star of CBS drama Pure Genius and SU2C ambassador, as well as breast cancer survivors Holly Rowe and Shelley Smith of ESPN, MLB Network's Kelly Nash & Chris Rose, and Lindsay Berra & Alyson Footer of

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 nine years, thousands of unique testimonials have been submitted and millions of 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.

For the first time MLB players will have the opportunity to use pink bats on both Saturday, May 13th and Sunday, May 14th of Mother's Day weekend. Louisville Slugger, the Official Bat of Major League Baseball, will donate proceeds from the sale of their pink bats, which will be stamped with the MLB breast cancer awareness logo, to Susan G. Komen and Stand Up To Cancer. Authenticated, game-used Louisville Slugger pink bats and other pink items from Mother's Day weekend games also will be auctioned exclusively on to benefit the fight against breast cancer.    

On Mother's Day weekend, players and on-field personnel also will wear the symbolic pink ribbon on their uniforms along with pink wristbands. Players will wear specially-designed uniforms that incorporate pink into the Clubs' regular logos as well as caps highlighted by a graphite crown and pink visor and options from two different pairs of pink-infused socks. MLB will again donate its licensed uniform royalties to Susan G. Komen and Stand Up To Cancer. Commemorative base jewels and dugout lineup cards also will be pink. Mother's Day games will feature a pink-stitched Rawlings baseball, the official ball of MLB, as the official game ball. In addition to the pink bats throughout Mother's Day weekend, the following game equipment can be used for breast cancer awareness: pink compression sleeves, pink batting gloves, pink footwear, pink wrist/elbow/leg guards and catcher's equipment. 

On May 14, the University of Kansas Health System will be on hand to promote Women's Health Awareness Day, offering information about breast cancer and other diseases that affect women. As a part of the day, individuals who are participating in the Buck O'Neil Legacy Seat, National Anthem and first pitch will be connected to the event.

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