Honorary Bat Girl spends special day with Royals

VanBuskirk brings out lineup card, has meet-and-greet with Gordon

KANSAS CITY -- It was Kelly VanBuskirk's day to hang out with the Royals. She was in the runway behind the dugout on Sunday as Salvador Perez was pulling on his catching gear for the game.

"Happy Mother's Day," Perez told her.

VanBuskirk was just fortunate to be here on Mother's Day. She is a breast cancer survivor and as such was the Honorary Bat Girl for Sunday's game against the Yankees.

There would be no collecting of the pink bats used by some of the players in the game -- after all, her position was honorary -- but there were some other duties.

"I actually get to deliver the starting lineup to the umpires out there. It's pretty exciting," she said.

So she joined Royals bench coach Chino Cadahia in the pregame meeting.

VanBuskirk is from Broken Arrow, Okla., just outside of Tulsa, and joined fans across the country in submitting inspirational stories that provide hope and motivation in the fight against breast cancer. She was named the winner of the Royals' contest.

"It's so meaningful to be here on Mother's Day and also to get to spend this day with your family that was there to support you when you're going through it," she said. "There are some hard days and some dark times, but when you have great support around you, I'm a great example that you can make it through."

Among those joining Kelly were her mother, Linda Clune, also a breast cancer survivor; her husband, Jason; her sister, Patty; and her nephew, Ben. And, of course, her son, Cale.

"He is 4 and he knows every Royals player by position. It's amazing," she said. "We got to do a meet-and-greet with Alex Gordon. It was a great opportunity, a great experience. He was so kind, a very nice person."

Cale was in the stands when his mother met Perez in the dugout.

"My son would be so excited to see him right now," she said.

More important, though, is that Cale is able to see his mom every day.

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.