Donation from the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation to Benefit Lymphoma Research at Sylvester
Anthony Rizzo is one of the top players in Major League Baseball, but the Chicago Cubs All-Star says his biggest victory came off the ball field.
The 25-year-old first baseman is a seven-year survivor of lymphoma.
He wanted to find a way to thank the UHealth doctors and nurses who led him through his battle with cancer, particularly Izidore Lossos, M.D., Director of the Lymphoma Program at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.
“Coming here for the past seven years, we have grown an appreciation for what the staff, the nurses, and the doctors do along the way that help make it the best possible experience,” said Rizzo, a native of Parkland. “The relationships we’ve made here, with Dr. Lossos and all of the nurses, have been really great.”
The Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation recently made a gift of $250,000 to the cancer center. The gift will be used to support the research of Lossos and his team, and is in support of Momentum2: The Breakthrough Campaign for the University of Miami.
In recognition, the waiting room at the Hematology Oncology Clinic on the second floor at Sylvester will be named the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation Hematology Oncology Waiting Room.
“The donation is wonderful,” said Lossos, who is also a professor of medicine. “But for me, the most important fact is that I first saw him as a teen who was most probably not going to have a chance to play. Now he is playing and that is a pleasure to see.”
In 2007, at the age of 17, Rizzo was drafted out of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School by the Boston Red Sox organization. A year later, he was fulfilling his dream of playing professional baseball as a Single A player when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Doctors in Boston advised him to return to South Florida to be treated at Sylvester.
After six months of chemotherapy, Rizzo was in remission. He realized he wanted to become a role model to help cancer patients and their families. In 2012, the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation was created with the goal of raising money for cancer research and to provide support to children and their families battling the disease.
Believing that an individual does not battle cancer alone, but that the whole family battles it together, the Foundation provides both financial and emotional support for families. If there is a young patient battling cancer, Rizzo will often call them to offer support and encouragement. They also host several events, including the “Walk Off For Cancer” 5K charity walk in Parkland and the “Laugh Off For Cancer” and “Cook Off For Cancer,” both of which are held in Chicago.
“It is great to help people and see the happiness you can bring to them,” said Laurie Rizzo, President of the Foundation and Rizzo’s mother.
Lossos was recognized as a Top Doctor in 2011 by U.S. News & World Report and was given the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center Outstanding Cancer Research Award in 2012. His laboratory research focuses on studies of lymphoma, with major interest in understanding the mechanisms of lymphoma pathogenesis, identification of aberrant signaling pathways, and identification of novel genes that may have a unique role in this disease
“We are privileged to have Dr. Izidore Lossos at Sylvester, as he is one of the top experts in defining the basis for lymphoma and developing new therapies,” said Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., Director of the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center and professor of medicine, biochemistry and molecular biology. “This donation will significantly advance our efforts to treat lymphoma and related diseases.”
Ready for his fourth season with the Cubs, Rizzo promises a banner year and is ready to take his team to the National League Central Division title. His mother, Laurie, says she is just happy to see her son healthy again.
“It is amazing. For everything he went through, just to see him out there healthy and playing baseball just amazes me,” she said.
To learn more about the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation, visit www.rizzo44.com.