Alex Gordon of the Royals, Matt Kemp of the Dodgers, Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates and CC Sabathia of the Yankees are among guest judges announced for the ongoing Honorary Bat Girl Contest, which encourages fans to share "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" stories for a chance to be honored on the field during Mother's Day celebrations around Major League Baseball.
Anyone 18 and older who has been affected by breast cancer and demonstrates a commitment to eradicating the disease can go to honorarybatgirl.com to submit a story by 12:01 a.m. ET on Monday. The guest judging panel will aid in the selection process of one Honorary Bat Girl for each of the 30 MLB teams, and winners will be recognized by the respective club between May 12 (Mother's Day) and May 31.
Gordon's mother and McCutchen's grandmother are breast cancer survivors. Sabathia is a returning Honorary Bat Girl panelist who has dealt with cancer within his family, and Kemp has been a longtime champion of the cause who is inspired by fans like friend Katie Ortega, 18, in remission from acute myeloid leukemia. The guest panel also includes television personalities Maria Menounos of Extra TV and Sam Ryan of MLB Network, whose cousin and mother are breast cancer survivors, respectively.
Fans are invited to share inspirational stories that they or loved ones have or currently are experiencing that provide hope and motivation in the fight against breast cancer. Additionally, fans will share the reasons they want to represent their favorite team as its Honorary Bat Girl. More than 4,000 testimonials have been submitted and more than 10 million fan votes have been cast over the first four years of this program. Entries can be submitted by breast cancer survivors, advocates and/or supporters of the cause.
Submissions have been ongoing since the start of the season, and these judges will evaluate them based on originality, quality of writing, demonstration of commitment to breast-cancer awareness and public appeal as determined by online fan votes. This program also includes strong support from many Major Leaguers who are personally committed to the fight.
"Major League Baseball is honored to recognize brave women who show strength in the face of breast cancer, as too many are directly affected by this disease season after season," said MLB executive vice president of business Tim Brosnan. "We are proud that our Honorary Bat Girl program is a part of the fight to eradicate this global disease through on-field awareness and fundraising, while recognizing some of the strongest and most spirited fans across the country."
Among the many submissions so far, just consider this one that speaks volumes, nominated by a Giants fan named Tracy:
"Lisa Wolfe was always participating in local events to raise awareness for breast cancer. A few years after active participation, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In stage 0 for a few years, she was just living with the disease and went in for regular checks. This year, things got worse. The cancer had multiplied and became more aggressive. Four days ago, she had a double mastectomy surgery. You wouldn't know it by how she acts. She is the surrogate mother for my two girls. Active and full of life. She never let cancer beat her before, and even now, after it has taken so much from her, she continues to live life to the fullest. Lisa exemplifies what it means to be a fighter. She goes to bat every day against breast cancer. She is my hero."
You can read many others like that. Just click "Vote" on honorarybatgirl.com.
During MLB's annual Mother's Day national day of recognition, one Honorary Bat Girl per club will take part in pregame activities, be honored during an on-field ceremony and receive pink merchandise with two tickets to the game. For clubs on the road that day, another home game in May will be selected to recognize their Honorary Bat Girl.
"Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" is a joint partnership between MLB and its licensed partners, Stand Up to Cancer and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. It has set out to raise awareness about the breast cancer cause, while also raising funds to support breast cancer research.
On every Mother's Day since 2006, hundreds of players have used Louisville Slugger pink bats stamped with the MLB breast-cancer awareness logo. To further demonstrate their support for the breast-cancer cause, players and on-field personnel have worn the symbolic pink ribbon on their uniforms along with pink wrist bands. Commemorative dugout lineup cards also have been pink.
You will be able to help raise funds for this overall cause by bidding on game-used items from those Mother's Day games, including the pink bats, at the MLB.com Auction. Factory pink bats also are available at the MLB.com Shop, with $10 of each sale benefiting this cause.
Go to MLBCommunity.org for more information on the full calendar of baseball's community events in 2013, and to see how you can be involved in its ongoing programs.