Chicago area kids fighting for their lives get flown to Arizona for Cubs spring training

A trip to sunny Arizona and spring training is always a welcome break.

However, it is especially meaningful for five Chicago area kids who have been fighting for their lives.

Thanks to the Cubs and American Airlines, those kids will get to be kids for a few days.

They arrived at the gate in style, five children ranging in age from eight to 14 and their families, headed to Cubs spring training in Arizona -- all expenses paid.

"I don't know if he got any sleep last night. He's pretty excited,” said father George Sorial. “Did you sleep?" he asked his son Johnny.

“I woke up really early," Johnny said.

Johnny Sorial just finished his last treatment after a three and a half year battle with leukemia.

Peter Rapatas of Norridge has been in and out of the hospital since last summer. We asked him who he is looking forward to seeing.

"Schwarber and Rizzo again. I have their signatures on my hat when I met them in the dugout at Wrigley Field,” Peter said.

"They need a getaway. All the kids on this trip got something taken away from them for a period of time, so it's giving back. One week doesn't fix it, but it's a good start,” said Peter’s father, Gus Rapatas.

It's the fourth straight year that Advocate Children's Hospital, American Airlines, Marriott Hotels and the Cubs have paid for a group of kids and their families to enjoy spring training -- and more.

"I'm excited for the hot weather, the pool and then the Cubs,” said Nyiah Young.

On Friday, the kids will take the field with Cubs players before practice and on Saturday, they will will attend the Cubs' first spring training game -- all under the watchful eye of Doctor Mark Butterly.

"It's an excellent opportunity for them to forget about the hospital visits, the appointments, the needles. And really for the families as well to get a respite because they've been helping the children through this entire process,” Dr. Butterly said.

"This will be a nice getaway for a couple days with the family,” said mother Gina Rapatas.