October 27, 2017
Chicago Cubs star Anthony Rizzo received baseball's top humanitarian honor when he was named the recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award. The award goes to the player who best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field.
Rizzo is a cancer survivor who makes frequent visits to children battling cancer at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. In August, his Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation made a $3.5 million gift to create two endowed funds at Lurie Children’s that will profoundly touch the lives of numerous patients treated for cancer and their families.
Rizzo, who was among 30 individual club nominees, was named as the winner in a ceremony before Friday’s Game 3 of the World Series at Minute Maid Park in Houston. Presenting him with the trophy were Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred and Vera Clemente, wife of the late Hall of Famer and Puerto Rican humanitarian, Roberto Clemente.
"To win this is amazing," said Rizzo. "That's the impact we want to make. A lot of organizations do amazing work, and we want to impact families directly. And this foundation, that's what the staple is.”
The Rizzo Family Foundation’s Hope 44 Endowed Fund at Lurie Children’s provides financial relief on a case-by-case basis for families facing financial burdens, including costs associated with insurance co-pays, meals, parking, transportation, rent, utility bills and childcare for siblings. The other endowed fund, the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation Child Life Endowed Fund, will provide ongoing support for two oncology Child Life specialists.
Part of Rizzo's donation in August included upgrading the waiting room in the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders, which included one of his Cubs jerseys, which he had patients sign. In recognition of the Rizzo family’s generosity, the waiting room on Lurie Children’s 18th floor was named the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation Waiting Room.
"Going to the hospital really keeps you motivated," Rizzo said. "You see the looks on the kids' faces and the families. I keep doing it because I remember when I was sick, and seeing my parents suffer way more than I did. I saw the looks on their faces. I just wanted to make sure they were okay. When I see the kids (at the hospital), I tell them all the time to be strong for their families."
Rizzo’s family foundation has also made a $650,000 pledge to the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Health System in Florida, where he lives during the off-season, to endow a Hope 44 Endowed Fund like the one at Lurie Children’s.
Interested in supporting new advances at Lurie Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders? Contact Erin Markuson at 312.227.7324 or email@example.com to learn more.