STREETERVILLE — Anthony Rizzo's foundation will donate $3.5 million to Lurie Children's Hospital, bringing the star Cub's overall gifts to the hospital to more than $4 million.
Rizzo's "Hope 44 Endowed Fund" will give grants to families who need help paying for their child's cancer treatments, the children's hospital at 225 E. Chicago Ave. announced Monday.
The gift will also endow a fund supporting two oncology specialists at the hospital who will "reduce anxiety and normalize the hospital experience for both patients and families," the hospital said in a press release.
"I know the emotional and financial strain the diagnosis of cancer can put on a family," Rizzo, a cancer survivor, said in a statement. "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 hospital said it has renamed an 18th-floor waiting room the "Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation Waiting Room" in honor of the star first baseman's charity. Rizzo frequently visits the hospital to encourage young patients during their treatments.
"The need 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," Mel Lamagna, manager of social work at the hospital, said in a statement.
Rizzo underwent six months of chemotherapy for Hodgkin's Lymphoma when he was an 18-year-old minor leaguer playing in the Boston Red Sox farm system. Rizzo, now 27, has been in remission since 2008 and has made cancer research, among other causes, a priority for his foundation.
"We've done a lot of special things to give back to families that really need help, and to be able to grow the foundation to what it is in Chicago, with all the support, is just something I envisioned when I was younger but now that we're doing all this, it's just crazy to say that. We're actually donating over $4 million to one hospital," Rizzo told reporters Monday evening in Colorado, where the Cubs are playing the Rockies.
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