BALTIMORE -- Monica Barlow would have hated all the attention, but the former longtime Orioles public relations director -- who passed away from complications of Stage IV lung cancer this spring -- and her cause certainly drew a crowd.
More than a thousand people packed Camden Yards early Saturday morning, hours before the Orioles took on the Red Sox, to participate in this year's Breathe Deep Baltimore, in memory of Monica. Team Barlow, headed up this year by her husband Ben, had nearly 200 members as of race morning and blue LUNGevity T-shirts lined Eutaw Street to rally toward finding a cure.
Last year's participation was around 600 people and featured a walk around the warning track of Camden Yards, but this year's group was large enough that the first five laps were around Oriole Park instead. The walk finished around the field, with MASN's Jim Hunter serving as emcee.
Barlow, 36, was a nonsmoker who was diagnosed with lung cancer in September 2009 while training for a half-marathon after dealing with a persistent cough. She continued to work for the Orioles throughout her battle, courageously becoming one of Major League Baseball's biggest advocates for the Stand Up To Cancer initiative. Barlow was also an advocate for the LUNGevity Fund and had participated in the walk every year. She was among those shown on Camden Yards' JumboTron Saturday morning as the walk honored survivors and those who have lost their lives to this disease.
This year, the Orioles stepped in to help sponsor the event. The first 500 participants were treated to a free ticket to the O's-Red Sox game at night.
Barlow graduated from William & Mary College in 1999 and served as an Orioles intern. She spent the next year as a PR assistant for the Richmond Braves (formerly Atlanta's Triple-A affiliate) before rejoining the Baltimore organization in January 2001.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.