Talk about a home run.
A young Chicago Cubs fan with cancer had a dream realized when she reunited with one of her idols, Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo, and helped him raise money for cancer research at his 4th Annual Walk-Off for Cancer 5K in his hometown of Parkland, Florida, on Sunday.
Chicago 7th grader Adrianna Fernandes attended the event – which raised more than $215,000 – as her Make-a-Wish request after Rizzo, a cancer survivor, visited her at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital.
“This is my Make-a-Wish because he’s done so much for me and my family, so I wanted to come back and give back to his cancer walk,” Fernandes explains. “It feels really crazy to be here.”
Rizzo was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at 18 during his first season playing Single-A ball in the Red Sox’s organization. After being in remission for four years, he launched the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation, which benefits families battling cancer and has raised more than $1 million to fund cancer research.
Rizzo greeted Fernandes with a big hug at the event and recognized her in his address to the crowd, saying, “I walked into a hospital room in Lurie Children’s Hospital one day and this little girl just lit up with the biggest smile on her face, and was so excited to see me. She knew everything about me, she knew my entire story.”
“It makes me feel very happy for him and for everybody that knows him,” Fernandes says of the event’s success. “He’s a very good inspiration and he is my inspiration and I just think it’s great that he does this.”