CHICAGO (FOX 32 NEWS) - Chicago Cubs star Anthony Rizzo, his fiance and his parents cut the ribbon on a new waiting room named in their honor at Lurie Children's Hospital--an honor well deserved.
Five-year-old Matthew Erickson, who was born with a cancerous brain tumor, was one of those in attendance.
Like many of the kids at Lurie, he's on a first-name basis with Rizzo, who makes it a priority to visit unannounced at least once a month.
"He knows all of these kids,” the boy’s mother, Sue Erickson said “I think they all feel so comfortable with him. When he walks in he calls them by name, and it's not just 'Hey buddy, how's it going?' He actually knows them by name and he care about each and every one of these kids."
But it's more than just time, it's also money, Rizzo presented Lurie with a $3.5 million donation from his family's foundation.
The gift will go to fund two new staff positions, as well as help families facing financial hardship because of their child's treatment.
Rizzo grew emotional, remembering his own battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma when he was 18 and just starting his career in professional baseball.
"To be able to give back and do this type of work is bigger than a World Series, or doing anything on a baseball field, because my family's been through it. There's so many families going through it and this is as real as it gets in life,” Rizzo said, holding back tears.
Anthony’s father, John Rizzo said his son’s experience helps him relate to kids in that position.
"Just to see him walking around with the kids,” John Rizzo said. ”And he'll talk to the kids like 'Oh yeah, do you like that treatment? I didn't like that stuff when it was going in me.' He relates with it all."
Which means everything to kids like 8-year old Benjamin Burke.
"He helped me believe that I can go through cancer,” Burke said.
Benjamin’s mother, Jenny, testified to the Cubs first baseman’s dedication
"Yeah. Anthony has come to see Benjamin when he's been his sickest at the hospital and it's changed our experience on those days."
Who says there's no crying in baseball?