August 12, 2013 9:49AM
Updated: October 18, 2013 2:25PM
In life, you’re thrown all types of pitches — curveball, change-up, fastball, slider, knuckle — but it’s what you do with the pitches you’re thrown that determines your position in the lineup. I’m lucky enough to have found mine, both in baseball and in life.
I’ve met so many children throughout my career who’ve shared their dreams of becoming a professional baseball player or athlete. When talking to these kids, the one word I hope they walk away with is “perseverance.” We have parents, teachers, coaches, mentors and older siblings who remind us of what it takes to get where we want to go in life. But for me, it took going through hardship to truly understand what the word means.
I was drafted by the Boston Red Sox organization straight out of high school. But my excitement ended quickly when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I was only 18 at the time, and my grandmother was battling breast cancer while I was receiving chemotherapy treatments. I knew I had to stay strong for everyone around me, because no matter how hard fighting cancer was for me, it was even more challenging for my family.
On Sept. 2, 2008, I was told I was in remission. At that moment I knew that I wanted to become a role model for cancer patients. I wanted kids to know that no matter who or what tries to knock them down in life, they should never lose sight of their dreams and always remain positive. It’s amazing how powerful our spirits can be, even during the darkest times.
I also knew that I wanted to raise money for families struggling to afford treatment. Cancer is stressful enough for a family, but expensive medical bills make life even harder. My family and I decided the solution was to launch The Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization. We believe every family deserves a fighting chance, so we raise money for cancer research and provide support to families with children who are battling cancer.
I ask you to join in our fight by attending our inaugural “Cook-Off for Cancer” on Aug. 14. Notable chefs from around the city will prepare their own versions of upscale ballpark food and my teammates and I will be assisting each chef and serving food to guests. Chicago is an amazing city and has shown my family and me hospitality beyond belief — and we want to show it back.
“Cook-Off for Cancer” will be held 6 to 10 p.m. Aug.14 at Café Brauer, 2021 N. Stockton. For tickets and information, visit Cubs.com/cook.