Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation to donate $3.5 million to Children's hospital

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Mark J. Rebilas - USA Today Sports
Mark J. Rebilas - USA Today Sports

The Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation has announced a $3.5 million commitment to create two endowed funds at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago — funds that will profoundly touch the lives of numerous patients treated for cancer and their families. With this commitment, the Foundation will have donated more than $4 million to the hospital.

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 co-pays, 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 benefited from the Rizzo Foundation’s Hope 44 Fund, which has already granted approximately $75,000 to offset these types of expenses.

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.

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, ranked 11th in the nation by U.S.News & World Report for pediatric oncology. Because the Foundation’s gift was made in the form of endowments, these resources will be available for Lurie Children’s 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,” said Anthony Rizzo, first baseman for the World Champion Chicago Cubs. “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.”

In recognition of the Rizzo family’s generosity, the 18th floor waiting room has been named the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation Waiting Room. The spacious room is a regular stop for Anthony during his frequent, unannounced visits to Lurie Children’s, where he inspires patients battling cancer with his motto, “Stay Strong, Dream Big.”

“We firmly believe that a medical bill or other financial stressor should never take priority over caring for a sick child,” says Mel Lamagna, Manager of Social Work at Lurie Children’s. “The needs 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.”

The Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation is a non-profit organization that was created in 2012 to provide support for cancer research and for families fighting the disease through philanthropy and proceeds from fundraising events. The Foundation’s Fifth Annual Cook-Off for Cancer will be held on May 18th at Morgan Manufacturing in Chicago’s West Loop.

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