101-year-old walker for cancer research recognized by Blue Jays with ceremonial first pitch

One of the true feel-good sports stories of 2014 took place at Toronto’s Rogers Centre during Mother’s Day (May 11). Kitty Cohen, a 101-year-old great grandmother was given the honor of throwing out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the Blue Jays Mother’s Day contest against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Having participated since 2007 in various charitable walks as part of the “Weekend to End Women’s Cancers”, Cohen was recognized as the Walker of the Year in 2013. Praising daily exercise as her secret to aging well, she can now add another unique honor to her athletic career. By participating in the first pitch ceremony with the Blue Jays, she now becomes the oldest Canadian to do so.

Ironically, the ceremony is nearly as old as Cohen. The first-ever took place in 1910 when President William Taft participated. Being escorted to the mound by her granddaughter, both were adorned in Blue Jays jerseys. Cohen’s jersey had the number one gracing the back, while her granddaughter was given number two. In the stands, three generations of her family, along with her dentist, were proudly cheering her on.

Wearing a pink baseball cap, Cohen threw the ball in an underhand motion with Jays’ catcher Josh Thole receiving it behind home plate. In addition, Major League Baseball teams celebrated Mother’s Day throughout North America with pink ribbons on their jerseys and pink laces on the game balls.

Since the beginning of her charitable goals to raise money by walking, she has logged 360 kilometres (almost 224 miles) while raised $20,000. Having earned a degree from York University at the age of 60 years old, Cohen is a living example of empowerment for women and seniors like.

As the “Weekend to End Women’s Cancers” shall be holding an event in Toronto from September 6-7, with proceeds going to Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, Cohen plans to participate. Considering it is a 30 km hike, the most impressive stat may be the fact that Cohen will have already celebrated her 102nd birthday by then.

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