CHICAGO -- Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo is donating $3.5 million to the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, hoping to make his mantra of "stay strong, dream big," a reality for children undergoing cancer treatments and their families.
“As a survivor of cancer myself, I know the emotional and financial strain the diagnosis of cancer can put on a family,” Rizzo said in a news release. "I believe that an individual does not battle cancer alone, his or her entire family does. That’s why we’ve designated this money to go directly to help families on the front lines."
The Anthony Rizzo Foundation announced the $3.5 million endowment Monday. The funds will go towards providing assistance to families facing financial hardships as their children undergo cancer treatments. It will also pay for the hospital’s child life specialists.
But for many of these patients, Rizzo is more than just a baseball player who writes big checks. To them, it’s not just about the money – it’s about the hope.
“[Rizzo is] just like a role model, inspiration to get through this and get back on the field,” said cancer patient Justin Wegner.
“It just shows these kids that yeah, you’re going through this and it’s hard and you have a lot going on but you can get past it, and you can play in the World Series,” said Ryanne Hugins, a mother whose child is undergoing cancer treatment.
The hospital said the waiting room on the 18th floor, where many kids get chemo, will also be renamed in Rizzo's honor.