ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – Helen Kahan hadn’t thrown a pitch before, but she told News Channel 8 that she practiced and prepared for her special moment Friday night at Tropicana Field.

The Tampa Bay Rays honored the Holocaust survivor on her 100th birthday by inviting her to throw out the first pitch before the weekend series-opening game against the New York Yankees.

For decades, Kahan has volunteered and shared her inspirational story with visitors at the Florida Holocaust Museum.

The tattoo on her arm is a permanent reminder she survived and witnessed one of the worst atrocities in human history.

“They killed all my relatives and what I was remained with was only little sisters,” Kahan said.

In 1944, the Nazis forced Kahan into a ghetto before deportation to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.

Near the end of World War II, Kahan escaped from a death march before the Soviet Army liberated her and thousands of prisoners.

“Helen is just the prime example of the lessons of the Holocaust, both the worst in humanity and the perseverance,” Florida Holocaust Museum Board Chair Michael Igel said.

Before the game, Igel recalled something his grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, would tell him.

“At special events sometimes he would he would just turn and say, ‘Hitler would be so angry if he saw this’ and I think about that tonight,” Igel said. “This is a night of victory and celebration.”

Wearing her custom Rays jersey with the number 100 on her back, Kahan could hear the cheers echoing through the ballpark as she walked to the mound for her ceremonial first pitch.

“This was more than I ever could have expected,” she said.

In one word, how would she describe her first pitch? “Terrific,” Kahan said.

Kahan has two children, five grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Nearly all of them were with her on the field on this once-in-a-lifetime occasion.

“Oh dear, cannot be a better thing,” Kahan said. “It cannot be. I am on my birthday and I have such happiness.”

The Rays Baseball Foundation has donated nearly $90,000 to support the Florida Holocaust Museum’s mission of education and honoring the millions of men, women and children who died during the Holocaust.