CHICAGO -- Anthony Rizzo hit a home run Monday for kids and their families who are battling cancer. The Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation announced a $3.5 million commitment to create two endowed funds at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.
The Hope 44 Endowed Fund will provide grants on a case-by-case basis for families facing financial hardship due to unexpected needs resulting from a child's treatment for cancer. These expenses include but are not limited to: insurance copays, meals, parking, rent, utility bills and child care for siblings.
The fund will enable oncology social workers to immediately assess a family's need for assistance, without restrictions on a patient's age or stage in diagnosis or the need for a formal application. A number of patients' families have benefitted from the Rizzo Foundation's Hope 44 Fund, which has already granted approximately $75,000 to offset these types of expenses.
Late night but couldn't have a better reason to get up early than to announce this news. So proud of my family and the work we are doing. https://t.co/9NnCHIk0gB
The second endowment, the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation Child Life Endowed Fund, will provide ongoing support for two oncology Child Life specialists. These integral members of a patient's healthcare team employ a variety of methods to reduce anxiety and normalize the hospital experience for both patients and families. Child Life specialist positions are funded entirely by philanthropy.
With this commitment, Rizzo's foundation will have donated more than $4 million to the hospital.
Each year, more than 300 newly diagnosed patients with a wide range of childhood cancers are treated at Lurie Children's Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders. Because the foundation's gift was made in the form of endowments, these resources will be available for patients and families for generations to come.
"As a survivor of cancer myself, I know the emotional and financial strain the diagnosis of cancer can put on a family," Rizzo 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 18th floor waiting room will now be named the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation Waiting Room. Rizzo visits the area once a month to inspire patients battling cancer with his motto, "Stay Strong, Dream Big."
Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.