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3/27/2014 4:55 P.M. ET

Mom, aunt inspire Plouffe to join fight against cancer

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- For Twins infielder Trevor Plouffe, cancer hit home at a very early age. When he was a freshman in high school, his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.

"It was a tough time," Plouffe said. "She got diagnosed, she went through the whole thing, chemo and radiation. I saw her lose her hair, and it was tough. But she made it through it and now she's a nurse, an oncology nurse, and she administers the chemotherapy to patients and helps them deal with that whole process. So, she's gone full circle now. She's pretty inspiring.

"My mom is a breast cancer survivor. My aunt's a breast cancer survivor. So it's something that I've been passionate about since my freshman year of high school."

Plouffe's mother and aunt are big reasons he has become the Twins' representative for Major League Baseball's "Strike Out Cancer" program, initiated by Cardinals right-hander Jason Motte. Plouffe received a box of T-shirts on Wednesday in the Twins' colors with the "K Cancer" logo on the front. Each of his teammates will receive one, and the T-shirts will also be available for sale to the public.

Each team representative designates a charity of his choice to which money will be donated. Plouffe has selected the Susan G. Komen foundation, the largest breast cancer organization in the United States, in honor of his mother and aunt.

"At the end of the day, it's about reaching people," Motte said. "Baseball is great and everything, but there are other really important things going on out there that affect a lot of people. Wearing these T-shirts shows people that they're not alone. They're not sitting there doing chemo by themselves where no one cares. People do care, whether it's friends, family or baseball players. There are people who this has touched and this has affected. This is something we're trying to do to get the word out there and try to raise money to help."

The website 108stitches.com went live on March 17, with 108 Stitches showcasing the "Strike Out Cancer" tees in each team's colors. Each is promoted by a different player who agreed to join Motte in a partnership that will benefit multiple charities. Each participating player has chosen a charity that will benefits from the T-shirts sales, and for each shirt sold, $5 will go to the Jason Motte Foundation and $5 to a charity of that player's choice. A full list of recipient charities will be listed on the 108 Stitches website soon, along with a photo of each player rep in his team-colored shirt.

The Twins were also hit with the news at the beginning of Spring Training that general manager Terry Ryan had been diagnosed with cancer. Ryan, who is currently undergoing treatment, was able to make a trip to Fort Myers last weekend to visit the team.

"It really hits home for our organization because of Terry," Plouffe said. "We think luckily he got diagnosed early enough where he's going to be able to come through this. He was even able to shoot down here and talk to us last week. That was cool to see. His spirits are high. He looks good. When he walked in the clubhouse, everyone just lit up, because he's a guy that we really respect. And we know he's going through a tough time right now, but just to see how well he's doing was really nice to see.

"He's so strong. It's great."

Maureen Mullen is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.