After all the fame that Anthony Rizzo has achieved as the All-Star first baseman for the Chicago Cubs, the Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School alumnus is committed to a cause that extends beyond his chosen profession. The Fourth annual Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation 5K Walk-Off For Cancer will be at Pine Trails Park in his hometown of Parkland on Nov. 15.
Rizzo is a cancer survivor and will be there in person to support the event. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in April 2008 and went through chemotherapy for six months. In 2012 the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation began with the help of his family, friends and management team.
The fundraising goal during the first year of the 5K Walk-Off was to reach $30,000, which was exceeded. Four years later, the foundation just achieved a milestone by going over $1 million in net fundraising. Those funds have helped build the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation’s Hospitality Room at Ann Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, a patient waiting room at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, funded cancer research at the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and supported families who battle the disease.
“When I was diagnosed with cancer at age 18, it was a huge shock to me,” Rizzo said. “I soon realized that cancer didn’t just affect me, but my entire family. That is why we started the foundation, to help families battling through one of the toughest times in their lives. I am so lucky to have fought and won my battle with cancer and if I can give back just a little, that is what I’m going to do.”
Rizzo has used his celebrity status as a platform. The cancer battle is personal on another front for the Rizzo family. Rizzo’s mom, the foundation’s president Laurie Rizzo, lost her mother to breast cancer.
“The walk is the first event we ever did and one of my favorites as it’s in our hometown with all of our family and friends, who helped Anthony during his battle with cancer,” Laurie Rizzo said. “I am really proud of my son and all that he has done to pay it forward and help families during the most difficult times in their lives.”
When Anthony Rizzo was with the Boston Red Sox baseball organization, he was strongly influenced by pitcher Jon Lester. Lester is now a Cubs teammate.
“[Lester] made a huge impact on my battle with words of encouragement and advice he gave me,” Rizzo said. “That is why I do hospital visits at least once a month. If I can have that same effect on a kid and help them out or just give them a few minutes of happiness in between treatments, than that’s what I’m going to do. These kids give me more than I will ever give them.”
To register, be a sponsor or make a donation, visit Rizzo44.com.