Honorary Bat Girl Contest Winner to be Recognized on Sunday at Yankee Stadium

 Major League Baseball announced the 30 winners of the 2012 Honorary Bat Girl program, which recognizes baseball fans who have been affected by breast cancer and demonstrate a commitment to “Going to Bat” in the flight against the disease.  The winner of the Honorary Bat Girl Contest for the New York Yankees is Erika Rech.

Erika, currently a sophomore at the Villanova University School of Business, was just 15 when her mom was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. Six months later, her aunt was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. A second aunt was diagnosed soon after. Erika wanted to make a difference to women who were struggling with breast cancer and, with her cousin, she started the charity Breast Intentions. (www.breastintentions.org). Erika has worked for the last 4 years to build her charity and raise money for women who are struggling financially while they are at the lowest point in their lives. Her charity has raised over $500,000, which has all gone back to patients in need. She has expanded her charity to New York, Georgia, Massachusetts, Illinois and Connecticut. In 2011, she paid the following for patients in need: 13 mortgage payments, eight medication payments,11 co-pays, 21 electric bills, 14 gas bills , two sewer bills, eight phone bills, seven cable bills, four water bills, 18 rent payments, one maintenance fee, five car payments, one car repair bill, two garbage bills, two tax bills, two health insurance premiums, two car insurance premiums, one MRI, purchased a wheelchair, purchased groceries/gift cards for 12 patients, purchased gas cards for 16 patients, purchased holiday gifts for two families, purchased college text books for one family, purchased a microwave for one family, purchased flowers for one family, arranged for lawn mowing service for one patient, and provided transportation from surgery for one patient. 

Erika will attend Sunday’s Yankees game vs. Seattle and will throw out the ceremonial first pitch as well as bring out the lineup card to home plate prior to the 1:05 p.m. contest.

Erika is one of the 30 winners, one for each MLB Club, who will take part in pre-game activities, be honored during an on-field ceremony, and will receive pink MLB merchandise and two tickets to the game.   Each winner was selected by a Guest Judging Panel that includes MLB players and celebrities in addition to fan votes casted on HonoraryBatGirl.com.

Nine-time Grammy award winner Bonnie Raitt, who lost her brother and close friends to cancer, recorded a special video at the MLB Fan Cave to lend her support to the Honorary Bat Girl initiative and the ongoing fight to eradicate the disease.  The video, which will run online and in-stadium, can be seen here.

The Guest Judging Panel who helped select the 30 winners included MLB players Joe Blanton of the Philadelphia Phillies, whose mom is a breast cancer survivor; Jason Heyward of the Atlanta Braves, whose aunt passed away from lung cancer; Howie Kendrick of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, whose best friend’s mom is a breast cancer survivor; and Barry Zito of the San Francisco Giants, whose mom was affected by cancer.  Also on the Guest Panel was MLB Network host Chris Rose, who has several close friends who have been affected by the disease; international soccer star Mia Hamm, supporter of the Honorary Girl Initiative with former MLB player and current ESPN analyst Nomar Garciaparra, whose grandmother passed away from breast cancer; actor James Denton of Desperate Housewives, who lost his mother to breast cancer. 

Also on Mother’s Day, hundreds of MLB players are expected to use pink bats by Louisville Slugger, the Official Bat of Major League Baseball, stamped with the MLB breast cancer awareness logo. To further demonstrate their support for the breast cancer cause, players and on-field personnel will wear the symbolic pink ribbon on their uniforms along with pink wrist bands. Commemorative dugout lineup cards also will be pink.

The Honorary Bat Girl Contest 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 2006, Major League Baseball created the “Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer” program.  Since its beginnings, MLB has continued to grow the program throughout the League and with all 30 Clubs to honor those affected by the disease. Along with MLB licensed partners and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, MLB raises awareness about the breast cancer cause. Game-used Louisville Slugger pink bats from Mother’s Day games that have been authenticated by MLB will be auctioned exclusively on MLB.com to benefit cancer research. To learn more about Major League Baseball’s charitable initiatives visit MLBCommunity.org.