Rizzo donates $3.5 million to Lurie Children's Hospital

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Monday, May 8, 2017
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Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo committed $3.5 million to Lurie Children's Hospital on Monday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo committed $3.5 million to Lurie Children's Hospital on Monday.

The money will create two endowments for cancer patients and their families. The two funds will be called Hope 44 Endowed Fund and Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation Child Life Endowed Fund.

For Ryanne Hugines and her son Ethan, Rizzo's announcement means everything.

"The foundation allowed us to travel to New York, stay in a hotel room and, as most people know, hotels in Manhattan are not cheap. Stayed there for 10 days, got second opinions, met with specialists and not have to worry about the financial impact," Hugines said.

Hope 44 will provide grants on a case-by-case basis for families facing financial hardship from a child's cancer treatment, and Child Life will provide ongoing support for two oncology Child Life specialists. Child Life specialists reduce anxiety and normalize the hospital experience.

"Not only is there a kid who is sick here dealing with really hard stuff, but there are also siblings at home dealing with really hard stuff. Those parents are dealing with the financial burdens, the emotional stress, their job stress on top of all of this, and we're here to kind of lighten that a little bit," said Lura Carstensen, certified Child Life specialist.

"We're really grateful. This is such a meaningful contribution and gift from the Rizzo Foundation. It's really going to benefit families for generations to come," said Mel Lamagna, Manager of Social Work at Lurie's Children.

Ethan's mother said beyond the financial help, it's the time Rizzo spends with the kids that makes an even greater impact.

"I don't know that people know that he comes to the hospital on game days sometimes. He'll have a night game and that morning he's up on 17m, or up on 18, you know. He did that last year so many times. You know, we have this world champion team and he's here on a working day visiting with these kids and I think it just says a lot about the type of person that he is, the type of man that he is, and how proud his parents should be of him that he does these selfless acts," Hugines said.

This latest commitment brings the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation donation total to more than $4 million to the hospital.

"As a survivor of cancer myself, I know the emotional and financial strain the diagnosis of cancer can put on a family," said Rizzo. "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 18th floor waiting room of Lurie's has been named the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation Waiting Room.

"We firmly believe that a medical bill or other financial stressor should never take priority over caring for a sick child," says Mel Lamagna, Manager of Social Work at Lurie Children's. "The needs for supporting patients with cancer and their families continues to grow each year, and thanks to the Rizzo Foundation's contribution, we will have the resources to provide this support year after year."