June 19, 2014 at 12:42 AM ET
Once again, Gabrielle Giffords has shown that she’s in a league of her own.
On Wednesday night, the former congresswoman threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game between female members of Congress and female journalists. The annual event raises money for young women fighting breast cancer.
It was a bittersweet moment for Giffords, who played in the inaugural Congressional Women's Softball Game in 2009.
"As a proud alum of the first-ever Congressional Women's Softball Game, I'm honored to have the privilege of throwing out the first pitch tonight,” Giffords said before the game. “I still plan to set the tone for the Members' team by delivering some high heat. I think I can confidently speak for all current and former female members of Congress when I say, ‘Beat the Bad News Babes’!”
On Jan. 8, 2011, the former House Democrat from Arizona was shot along with 18 others, six of whom died, at a constituent meeting in a supermarket parking lot in the Tucson metropolitan area. Giffords survived a gunshot wound to the head, and had to resign from her congressional seat in order to focus on her recovery. In 2011, the female members of Congress dedicated their softball-game win to Giffords.
Giffords has made great progress since the shooting through ongoing speech and physical therapy, though she still has difficulty speaking and walking. She maintains a large social media following, which she tapped into before Wednesday's softball game. In one tweet, she playfully ribbed 50 Cent about his terrible ceremonial first pitch at a Mets game in late May.
On Wednesday night, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, walked Giffords onto the field.
"I was thrilled when Gabby agreed to throw out the first pitch,” Wasserman Schultz said before the game. “I have played a lot of catch in my years of playing softball, but catching Gabby's first pitch will be the best snag ever!"
Earlier this year, Giffords marked the third anniversary of the mass shooting by embarking on a skydiving adventure. She appeared on TODAY and said that her skydiving jump was meant to tell everyone what mattered.
“I’m alive,” she said.