Updated 9/1/2016 at 11:00 am
CHICAGO (CBS) — For Anthony Rizzo, helping individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer is second nature. While much of the work of Rizzo’s foundation goes unnoticed by the general public, a letter from the Cubs first baseman to a toddler with leukemia recently got the attention of baseball and non-baseball fans alike.
“If you are not a Cubs fan you need to be an Anthony Rizzo fan,” wrote Kiefer Hopkins on Facebook.
Hopkins was responding to a letter from the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation, in which Rizzo addresses Hopkins’ son, Parker. In August, Parker — who is almost two — was diagnosed with leukemia at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
In the letter, Rizzo describes how his battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma was the scariest time of his life.
“All that I can say is that every day I stayed as positive as possible so that everyone around me, especially my family, did not worry about how I was feeling,” Rizzo wrote. “I believe that by staying positive, I actually felt better and ultimately won my battle against cancer. I know that you too can do the same.”
He enclosed $2,500 with the letter.
Parker’s father is thankful for Rizzo’s letter and insistent that everyone who sees it knows one thing: Rizzo has sent many letters like this.
“I just want to make sure Anthony’s foundation is getting the credit they deserve for helping several families in this situation,” Hopkins told CBS Chicago. “Ours is special to us but there is a big picture and Anthony is helping several children and their families across the country. We want to make sure they are getting that recognition.”
A family friend has helped the family keep loved ones updated through a GoFundMe page, where people have donated nearly $10,000. After his diagnosis, Parker immediately went into surgery. That was quickly followed by chemotherapy.
Parker was even able to make it out of his room to visit a playground at the hospital on Sunday.
According to the family on Facebook, Parker’s mood continues to rise as he proceeds with more chemotherapy.
“Another great night,” Parker’s family wrote on Wednesday. “Parker was in the best mood we’ve seen so far.”
Parker was even able to receive a visit from his big brother, Maddux.
According to Parker’s family, you don’t have to be a professional baseball player to be a hero. By signing up with Be the Match, the largest bone marrow registry in the world, the Parkers believe you have the potential to be a hero too.
“A hero doesn’t change just one person’s life,” Parker’s father emphasized. “… But multiple and thats what Anthony and his foundation continue to do.”