Anthony Rizzo's cancer battle sparked foundation to help kids

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Anthony Rizzo has become the face of the franchise, and his value to the team and community is evident in his regular visits to Lurie Children's Hospital. (WLS)

In just four seasons, Anthony Rizzo has become the face of the franchise, and his value to the team and community is evident in his regular visits to Lurie Children's Hospital, where he's doing work that matters more to him than baseball.

"Just seeing a Chicago Cubs baseball player come in puts a smile on their face, so being able to do I feel like helps them out a lot, and everything I've been through kind of helps me see kids put a smile on their face is huge," Rizzo said.

"He cares so deeply about all these kids and these family, and it means so much as a family going through this journey, it means a lot," said Sue Erickson, mother of cancer survivor.

Rizzo and his family care because they understand. He battled and beat Hodgkin's lymphoma at the age of 18, a journey that sparked the Anthony Rizzo Foundation.

"We did that three years ago and without the help of my mom and dad, my agent, my sister-in-law, the Cubs, I've really backed the foundation and the support from the fans, as well," he said.

"We've gotten to know his parents and they're just as dedicated to the foundation as he is and I think they have an understanding of what the other side of treatment is like," said Ben Erickson.

The foundation has donated over $100,000 to the children's hospital. As a result, the Cubs first baseman now visits patients in the Anthony Rizzo Foundation Family Room.

"Kids battling cancer, unfortunately, is going to happen for the rest of our lives," Rizzo said. "It's just the way they approach it and their attitude. You see a lot of these young kids that are so sick, yet they look like they're not at all."

"What kid gets excited to come to the hospital when they have to have chemo? But when they think about the chance to meet Anthony, they just light up," said Sue Erickson. "Everything that he does for this hospital, he does it straight from the heart and the kids know that."

"Coming in here and getting to touch one kid and bring a smile to his face if he's feeling down, or she's feeling down that day, and lifting their spirits is the most gratifying thing," said Rizzo.

"I think this is the side of professional side of sports that people really need to see because I know there's a lot of guys and women who are doing things like this, and I'm just glad the focus is on what he does for the families," Ben Erickson said.


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