LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The fight against cancer is ongoing, and the cause is a personal one for Andre Dawson.
Like so many, Dawson's life has been touched by cancer. So it's fitting the 59-year-old Hall of Famer continues to actively use his celebrity status to raise awareness. Dawson, entering his 15th season as a special assistant with the Marlins, is participating in Major League Baseball's SU2C Auction, which is aimed at raising money to combat the potentially deadly disease.
One of the early orders of business at the Winter Meetings, which begins on Monday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., is the Stand Up To Cancer Auction.
Baseball's Winter Meetings this week include an MLB.com Auction to benefit Stand Up To Cancer, which MLB has supported since 2008 as founding sponsor. Public-relations representatives from all 30 clubs were inspired to act based on individual club members impacted by the disease, and they jointly organized the auction, which will be officially announced at a news conference on Monday, with MLB staff. Bidding closes at 10 p.m. ET on Thursday with 80 baseball-related experiences -- ranging from private pitching and batting lessons with players to lunches with general managers to team bus rides and meet-and-greets with Hall of Fame players.
As part of a league SU2C initiative, the Marlins are auctioning off the Ultimate VIP Weekend -- a meet-and-greet with Dawson and Tony Perez. The winner also will get a chance to meet a Marlins player.
Perez, a Hall of Famer from Big Red Machine fame in Cincinnati, is also a Marlins special assistant.
The bidding on marlins.com begins at 9 a.m. ET on Monday. The VIP Weekend package will remain open for bids until Thursday at 9:26 p.m. ET.
Perez and Dawson are two of the Marlins' most recognizable figures.
Dawson, who played for four teams in a 21-year career, was diagnosed with prostate cancer during a physical prior to Spring Training in 2012. Last December, the longtime standout outfielder underwent a procedure called robotic surgery to remove his prostate.
Cancer-free, Dawson does not shy away from using his role-model status to spread the word to others.
"If you can do something that is lifesaving, that's what it is all about," Dawson said in an interview with MLB.com early in the '13 season.
Beginning Monday, each of the 30 MLB teams is offering an auction package.
The Marlins Ultimate VIP Weekend includes two tickets to a three-day home series at Marlins Park in '14. The games will be at a mutually agreed upon date, excluding Opening Day and the home season finale.
The winner will watch each of the three games from the best seats in the house, starting on Friday with a spot in the Clevelander -- located beyond the left-field wall. On Saturday, the tickets will be in the all-inclusive Diamond Club behind home plate, and for the series finale on Sunday, the tickets are in the President's Suite, where Dawson and Perez will be on hand.
The package also includes the opportunity to throw out a ceremonial first pitch prior to one game, plus passes to watch batting practice on the field with the opportunity to meet a mutually agreed upon Marlins player.
Before one game, the winner will take a VIP tour of Marlins Park, which will be entering its third season.
Stand Up To Cancer is a groundbreaking initiative created to accelerate innovative cancer research that will get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives now.
A father of two, Dawson encourages all to take the necessary steps and get tested to make sure they are healthy.
"That's what is most important: to be here as long as you can for your family," Dawson said several months ago. "You're not promised tomorrow. But if God gives you a way to try and get to tomorrow, that's what you take advantage of."
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro.