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3/26/2013 5:04 P.M. ET

Bat girl contest to help fight breast cancer under way

Fans encouraged to share stories; winners to be honored on-field on Mother's Day

The fifth annual Honorary Bat Girl Contest is under way, encouraging fans to share "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" stories for a chance to be honored on-field during Mother's Day celebrations around Major League Baseball.

Anyone 18 or 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 before April 22. MLB launched the campaign on Tuesday and will honor all affected fans on Sunday, May 12, by decorating specific equipment and other items with the symbolic pink color.

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 teams as an 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 the program, and entries can be submitted by breast-cancer survivors, advocates and/or supporters of the cause.

"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 Tim Brosnan, MLB executive vice president of business. "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."

During MLB's annual Mother's Day recognition, one Honorary Bat Girl per club will take part in pregame activities, be honored during an on-field ceremony and receive pink merchandise along with two tickets to that day's game. For clubs on the road that day, a home game in May will be selected to recognize their Honorary Bat Girls.

Players will be among a panel of judges that will again help select the winning submissions based on originality, quality of writing, demonstration of commitment to breast-cancer awareness and public appeal as determined by online fan votes. Celebrity judges will be revealed later.

"At first, I didn't know how much I would need to do," Braves outfielder Jason Heyward said last year, when he was one of the judges. "But after reading people's testimonies, it really didn't matter. If it was one page or two pages, I didn't have any problem reading them through. I like to help with anything related to any form of cancer."

"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 wristbands. Commemorative dugout lineup cards also have been pink.

You will be able to help raise funds for this 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 will be available at the MLB.com Shop, with part of the proceeds benefiting this cause.

"She taught me true strength, showed me how to be brave even during life's toughest moments, and helped me to understand the value of life," Kaitlon Busser, one of last year's Honorary Bat Girls, representing the Cubs, wrote of her mother, who had recently lost her fight with breast cancer. "My mother will always be my pink warrior. There is nothing I would rather do than go to bat against breast cancer by being an Honorary Bat Girl in her name on the first Mother's Day I will not be able to share with her."

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.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.