CHICAGO - Earlier this year, a group of current and former patients from Advocate Children's Hospital made a special trip to Arizona for the Chicago Cubs spring training.
On Tuesday, the children and their families had a bittersweet reunion at Wrigley Field.
"We were there for 48 hours, but they formed lifetime bonds," said Chris Priester, of Advocate Health Care.
For Daniel Rodriguez, who turns 10 years old on Wednesday, it was also a surprise birthday party. Being reunited with the group at Wrigley made for a birthday celebration that will be hard to beat.
"It was just nice knowing that we were with families that can relate to our situation," said Daniel's mother, Nyvia Crespo.
Advocate wanted the event to boost the spirits of their young patients.
For Vanessa Hernandez, she won't forget the day. She hoped to meet Cubs player Javier Baez, which is exactly what she did.
"He was so cute and he gave me a high five," Hernandez said.
Daniel also saw his favorite player in Arizona -- Willson Contreras. They met in January when Contreras visited the hospital and they formed a bond. The Cubs player event posted a picture of the two of them on Instagram.
"You ask him who's his friend, he says, 'Willson.' He watches the Cubs game. If he doesn't see Willson, he gets frustrated," Crespo said.
Daniel's birthday celebration continued in the Friendly Confines before the Crosstown Classic kicked off. Contreras came by to say hello and brought Daniel into the dugout for a few minutes.
Contreras told Daniel that he hopes to see him again and that he has a relative back in Venezuela with Downs Syndrome. Daniel prepares to go in for multiple surgeries on Monday.
It was a big day for all of the kids. Their visit to Arizona was featured on the big screen in the ballpark. It was a bittersweet moment as it featured a tribute to Thalia Freund, one of the patients who lost her battle with cancer.