NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- More than 1,000 people crowded into a banquet hall in New Jersey last week for one single person, one single reason. Friends of Mets staffer Shannon Forde, who was recently diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer, were throwing a fund-raising dinner in her honor.
Luminaries from around the baseball and sports worlds joined friends and family in supporting Forde at the Westmount Country Club in Woodland Park, N.J. Several attendees -- including the night's emcee, Ron Darling, and Jay Horwitz, vice president of public relations -- spoke of the personal connections that Forde had made over the years with everyone in the room.
"The relationships are all worth it -- tonight is a testament to that," Forde said when she finally stood to address the congregation. "I feel like 'thank you' doesn't begin to express how I feel."
Forde stepped down from the podium to a standing ovation, learning that support comes from many people, many avenues and many hours of hard work. And it continues to come -- not just for Forde but for so many others around baseball and around the world battling cancer.
These Winter Meetings are featuring 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 by individual club members affected by cancer, and they jointly organized the auction and announced it on Monday in Nashville alongside MLB staff. Bidding closes at 11:59 p.m. ET Thursday for more than 70 baseball-related experiences, ranging from clubhouse tours by players to lunches with general managers to team bus rides to meet-and-greets with 14 Hall of Famers.
Mets-related items include the following:
A pregame meeting with manager Terry Collins, along with the opportunity to attend his pre- and postgame news conferences
A visit to the SportsNet New York television booth at Citi Field, with the opportunity to meet announcers Gary Cohen, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez
An opportunity to take batting practice in an indoor cage within the Mets' clubhouse, along with the chance to meet numerous players
All of the above include passes to watch batting practice from the field, four tickets to a game and a personalized message on the Citi Field scoreboard.
The goal is to support those affected by cancer, just as the Mets family has spent the last few months supporting Forde.
"Shannon loves all people," Horwitz said that night in New Jersey, summing up the efforts to help one of his team's own. "This is to show how much people love her back."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo.