KANSAS CITY, MO (May 8, 2013) - Major League Baseball announced today the 30 winners of the 2013 Honorary Bat Girl Contest that recognizes baseball fans who have been affected by breast cancer and demonstrate a commitment to eradicating the disease. The winner of the Honorary Bat Girl Contest for the Royals is Kelly VanBuskirk from Broken Arrow, Okla., who will be recognized in a pregame ceremony on Mother's Day - Sunday, May 12. She will also have the opportunity to meet outfielder Alex Gordon, a member of the Honorary Bat Girl Guest Judging Panel, during batting practice prior to the game.
VanBuskirk is one of 30 winners, one per MLB Club, who will take part in pregame activities, be honored during an on-field ceremony, and will receive pink MLB merchandise and two tickets to the game. In 2009, a pregnant VanBuskirk lost her father and was then informed she carried the BRCA gene, which is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. Later that year, the 35-year-old was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy, hysterectomy and chemotherapy. She had her last surgery in September 2011 and now participates in the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life and Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure events to bring awareness to the disease. VanBuskirk is looking forward to sharing her Royals experience with her young son, who is an avid Royals fan. In her nomination, VanBuskirk explained that, "I might have lost parts of me, but I did not lose this fight. Today, I am a better me, a better mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend. Today, I am a SURVIVOR."
Fans across the country shared inspirational stories that provide hope and motivation in the fight against breast cancer, as well as the reasons they or their nominees should represent their favorite team. The 30 Honorary Bat Girl winners were selected by fan votes on HonoraryBatGirl.com along with feedback from a Guest Judging Panel that included Gordon, CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees, Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Maria Menounos of Extra TV and Sam Ryan, MLB Network host and reporter.
Louisville Slugger, the official bat of MLB, will introduce a new design element to their iconic pink bats that are used by hundreds of players throughout the League on Mother's Day. The hot pink color was introduced in 2012 and this year, it will include the new Louisville Slugger logo, which changed on MLB's Opening Day, marking the bat maker's first logo change in 33 years and only the second significant change in its 129 years in professional baseball. Louisville Slugger and MLB first introduced the pink bat program on Mother's Day in 2006. Fans can obtain their own personalized pink bat by going to going to shop.mlb.com or sluggergifts.com. Game-used Louisville Slugger pink bats from Mother's Day games will be auctioned exclusively on MLB.com to raise funds for the fight against breast cancer.
To further demonstrate their support for the breast cancer cause, players and on-field personnel will wear the symbolic pink ribbon on their uniforms along with pink wrist bands. Commemorative base jewels and dugout lineup cards will also be pink.
In addition, the Royals are planning a special pregame ceremony celebrating breast cancer survivors and will host a silent auction featuring special bases from the game and other "pink" items outside of the Royals Charities store. There will also be a Susan G. Komen for the Cure donation table where Komen shirts and Royals pink bracelets will be distributed. The Royals are also offering a special ticket package for Komen supporters. Fans may visit www.royals.com/komenkansascity for more information.
The Honorary Bat Girl 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 four years, over 4,000 testimonials have been submitted and more than 10 million fan votes have been cast. Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer is a Major League Baseball initiative supported by its charitable partners Stand Up to Cancer, a charitable program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. This initiative has set out to raise awareness about the breast cancer cause and funds to support life-saving breast cancer research.
For more information, members of the media may contact the Royals Publicity Department at (816) 921-8000.