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11/11/08 9:00 AM EST

Message of 'Hope' against cancer

Tony Award winner Menzel lends talent to MLB mission

"Hope is the bravest, most beautiful bird in the sky."

It's an evocative, emotional metaphor on its own, but when it pertains to the millions of us who have come in contact with cancer, it resonates even more powerfully.

The lyric comes from the new song, "Hope," performed by Tony Award winner Idina Menzel in support of Major League Baseball and its ongoing programs to eventually cure cancer through the new Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) initiative.

The debut of the song, which was written by acclaimed composer Paul Hampton, represents the first of what will be a series of multi-platform initiatives surrounding this signature title song for important, inspiring efforts throughout the industry.

"I've had several people in my extended famly and friends that have passed on because of cancer, and some that have survived," Menzel said. "I guess it's nice that it's an association with baseball because athletes are looked at as such strong people, as heroes, but this disease obviously makes people very vulnerable."

Menzel mentioned the main lyric of the song as the grand slam we can all hit by curing cancer.

"It's a metaphor for hitting a ball out of the park and soaring through the air," she said. "I think it's ... how we have to look at this. The more awareness we have and the more money we can make (for SU2C), eventually we'll be able to hit a home run."

Menzel's grandfather on her father's side lost a battle with cancer, which makes her even more motivated to do something to ensure that the disease doesn't affect her family in future generations.

"For me, it's a nice marriage between something that's very personal to me with the sport, being inspired by all those athletes and what they've overcome, and what they do to inspire other people to be full of hope and to look forward to a day when we don't have to worry about this anymore," she said.

"Cancer is a horrible thing, but we're finding a way to rise above and find the strength in us all in order to deal with it and fight it as best we can."

"Hope" will be available for purchase and download through iTunes and other online retailers beginning Tuesday, Nov. 11.

Proceeds from the sale of the track, which was produced by Steve Lipson (Annie Lennox, Whitney Houston, Paul McCartney) will go to benefit Stand Up To Cancer.

Stand Up To Cancer (www.standup2cancer.org), launched in May, raises funds to accelerate ground-breaking research that will get new therapies to patients more quickly.

With advances in the basic science of cancer and technology, investigators are on the verge of life-saving discoveries but desperately need additional funding. SU2C's innovative approach to research is designed to eliminate barriers that have traditionally inhibited creativity and collaboration by enabling the best and brightest scientists from leading institutions across the country and internationally to work together on "Dream Teams."

Major League Baseball became the first major donor to Stand Up To Cancer earlier this year when baseball commissioner Bud Selig, a skin cancer survivor, announced that MLB would support the effort to further cancer research with an initial contribution of $10 million.

Doug Miller is a Senior Writer for MLB.com/Entertainment. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.