CLEVELAND — Colin and Colton Dennis are going to have a hard time topping future Mother’s Day gifts.
Alecia Dennis got to see her first game at Progressive Field in four years on Sunday. She was the Indians representative in Major League Baseball’s Honorary Bat Girl Contest, which recognizes those who have or are battling cancer.
"I see how hard she works, and she deserves something special," said Colin Dennis, who is Alecia’s husband. "There are not many opportunities to get to do something like this until now."
Colin nominated Alecia as part of the "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" initiative. He nominated her late in the process, but many were touched by her story.
Alecia Dennis, 26, was diagnosed with breast cancer last October and had a lumpectomy a couple weeks later. She has had two rounds of chemo treatments, including one every Monday for 12 weeks. While undergoing chemo, she has continued her job at Capital University in Columbus, taken classes toward her MBA and is the mother to 1½-year-old Colton.
As Colin wrote in the nomination letter: "If there is a stronger woman out there, I have not met her. She is truly an amazing woman who can take anything that is thrown at her. I am just lucky she keeps me around for the ride."
One of Alecia’s classes was on the same day as her chemo treatment, which she said was a nice distraction.
Said Alecia of her busy schedule: "It kept me sane. I don’t have time to sit around and feel sorry for myself. This sucks. It sucks when you are 26, 46 or 86. I’m not the only person in the world going through this and to work and focus on taking care of him (Colton) and doing my homework made me focus on not feeling sorry for myself. It happens. There’s nothing I can do about it but work through it.
"Knowing that I have the support of my family meant a lot to me. They were the reason I was able to do all of this with their help. It has made it worthwhile and something to fight for."
With her latest round of chemo and the spring semester at Capital completed, Alecia will have a double mastectomy later this month.
Alecia was hoping not to bounce the ceremonial first pitch. She didn’t as she fired a perfect strike to Slider. Alecia was hoping to meet Jason Kipnis before the game but did not get the chance.
Kipnis though had a big day, going 3-for-5 with two RBI and was a homer shy of the cycle in an 8-2 victory over the Twins. After getting a single in the first inning, Kipnis decided to keep using the pink bats that come out once a year throughout Major League Baseball on Mother’s Day.
For the second time in three years, David Murphy had a big game on Mother’s Day. In 2013 while with Texas he hit a home run and gave his mom the ball. On Sunday, he went 4-for-4, marking the fourth time he has had four or more hits in his two seasons with the Tribe.
"I texted my mom back and forth this morning and will give her a call on the way home," Murphy said. "It is fun for her when I am successful, but it is sweeter on Mother’s Day."
Before the game, Terry Francona reflected on his mother, Roberta, who passed away in 1992 due to cancer, and the time that they spent together while he was growing up.
"I have a daughter (Leah) who is a first time Mother’s Day recipient which is a cool thing," he said. "In our game of baseball more often than not the mom is usually the mom and the dad."
Francona’s favorite story about his late mother is how she helped him prepare for a pitch, hit and run competition by building something so that he could practice throwing into a net.
"The competition starts and I beat everybody. And then they disqualified me because my dad was a Major League player. I hadn’t seen my dad in three months," Francona said. "She was so upset. You know when you’re tearing up when you’re so mad? She’s grabbing the wheel, and she was going to take me to get ice cream. And I said, ‘Mom, we don’t have to go to Ohio to get ice cream.’ We were across the state line (at the time the Francona’s lived in Pennsylvania)."