Young patients head to Cubs spring training in Mesa, Ariz.

A group of nine young patients from Advocate Children's Hospital were headed Tuesday to Mesa, Ariz., to watch Chicago Cubs spring training.

The all-expenses-paid trip aims to boost the spirits of current and former patients who have dealt with medical complications most, if not all, of their lives.

The group arrives Tuesday night and the fun kicks off with a welcome dinner. A full day of activities are planned for Wednesday, including breakfast near Sloan Park, before returning home.

"It's really amazing to watch her be a kid again and enjoy life and not think about needles and blood sugar and all the other things that go along with it," said dad Dan Gryson, whose 9-year-old daughter Olivia was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes.

Despite her medical battle, Olivia became a Cubs superfan during the World Series.

"They're a good team and they have good sportsmanship," Olivia said.

A meet-and-greet with the team is part of the experience.

"The kids will be able to interact with some of the Cubs players. I think I heard there's gonna be some good ones there," said Christina Enea, of Advocate Health Care.

Peyton Kirk, 10, who was born with a heart defect and has had several surgeries, is one of the children going on the Cubs trip.

Peyton hopes to meet her favorite player Anthony Rizzo and already knows what she'll tell him: "You keep making me fight so I can save my life."

Many of the parents didn't think the trip was real when they were told about it.

"When you get a chance to make them feel like they are the special prince and princesses they are, it's unforgettable," said parent Karen Hernandez, whose 7-year-old daughter Vanessa Hernandez can root on the Cubs in person rather than just on TV.

The trip was made possible by Advocate Children's Hospital, American Airlines and the Cubs.
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