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Orioles celebrate Mother's Day, Honorary Bat Girl

BALTIMORE -- Camden Yards, typically a sea of black and orange, was splattered with pink on Sunday afternoon as the Orioles paid homage to Mother's Day in Major League Baseball's initiative to help raise awareness and funds for breast cancer.

The Orioles players and coaches donned pink wristbands, cleats and bats -- to be auctioned off later -- and Honorary Bat Girl winner and breast cancer survivor Debra Nelson was recognized in an on-field pregame ceremony. Nelson, who received tickets to the game and threw out the ceremonial first pitch, is a diabetes nurse educator at the University of Maryland who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009 and resides in Baltimore with her husband, David, and son, Brian.

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She will be featured in "The Cure," a documentary that chronicles her breast cancer journey and her selection as a model in a fashion show called "Steps for a Cure."

Among the Orioles to wear pink equipment was right fielder Nick Markakis whose mother, Mary Lou, is also a breast cancer survivor. Markakis saves his pink bats to give to Mary Lou every year.

"I try to do as much as I can for her, because I know how much it means to her," Markakis said. "It's completely different; I can sit here and say it's a good cause and not know anything about it. But when you see somebody go through it ... I used to drive my mom to her chemo treatments. And on the way home, you see what it takes out of them. You get a whole different perspective on it."

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 five years, thousands of unique testimonials have been submitted and more than 4 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 and Susan G. Komen. This initiative raises awareness about the breast cancer cause, while also raising funds to support breast cancer research.

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli.

Baltimore Orioles, Nick Markakis