Honorary bat girl contest opens for Nationals fans

Major League Baseball® and Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the world's largest breast cancer organization, recently launched the 2011 Honorary Bat Girl Contest, a campaign to recognize baseball fans who have been affected by breast cancer and have demonstrated a commitment to eradicating the disease. Washington Nationals fans ages 18 and older can go online at www.honorarybatgirl.com to share inspirational stories about themselves or loved ones who are "Going To Bat Against Breast Cancer."

One Honorary Bat Girl representing the Washington Nationals will be selected to take part in pre-game activities and be honored during an on-field ceremony at Nationals Park when the team celebrates Mother's Day at a yet-to-be-determined date. The special honoree will also receive pink MLB merchandise and two tickets to the game. Entries may be submitted at www.honorarybatgirl.com, a Web site powered by MLB.com, and will be accepted until the submission period closes on Thursday, April 14.

A celebrity panel of judges will help select the winning submissions based on the following criteria: originality, quality of writing, demonstration of commitment to breast cancer awareness and public appeal as determined by online fan votes. Celebrity judges for this year's contest include Gabrielle Union, actress and supporter of the cause; Mrs. Billye Aaron, breast cancer survivor, Komen Global Ambassador for breast cancer and wife of Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron; Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen for the Cure; Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox All-Star Pitcher and lymphoma survivor; Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim All-Star Pitcher whose mother is a breast cancer survivor; Jim Thome, Five-time All-Star and Minnesota Twins Designated Hitter whose mother passed away from lung cancer; Suzyn Waldman, New York Yankees radio broadcaster and breast cancer survivor; and Mitch Williams, MLB Network analyst whose late mother had breast cancer.

During the nine-week online submission period, fans can share stories of inspiration and hope, how they or loved ones are supporting the fight against breast cancer and why they want to be an Honorary Bat Girl for their favorite MLB Club. Testimonials can be submitted by breast cancer survivors, advocates and supporters of the cause.

The program 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 two years, nearly 2,000 testimonials have been submitted and more than six million fan votes have been cast. Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer is a joint partnership between MLB, its licensed partners and Susan G. Komen for the Cure to raise awareness about the breast cancer cause, while also raising funds to support breast cancer research.