Rizzo makes it right; sick girl gets new photo after hers was stolen
Abby Schrage has never met Anthony Rizzo, but the Cubs first baseman is her beacon of hope.
On the window of Abby‘s pediatric intensive care unit room at St. Louis Children’s Hospital hung an autographed Rizzo picture and Cubs mural.
The picture of Rizzo swinging his bat is a constant reminder for Abby, who is 12 and battling brain cancer for the second time, that there’s “life beyond lying in a hospital bed.”
However, that cherished picture has been missing since Friday.
“I don’t know how this would be more valuable to them than this little girl,” Abby’s mother, Jill Schrage, told the Sun-Times on the phone on Tuesday.
Abby was in her hospital bed wide-eyed, shocked and in silence as her family scoured the room opening up drawers and searching the floor for the picture. But after several minutes of frantically searching, the realization sunk in that the photo was gone.
Rizzo was also upset when he heard the news, and he wanted to make things right.
So Rizzo sent Abby a signed jersey and a new photo to hang in her hospital room. The hospital originally planned to surprise Abby and her family with the gifts on Wednesday morning, but the news of the star athlete’s gesture quickly circulated on Twitter.
Schrage was nearly speechless when she found out Rizzo was sending the package.
“That is so incredibly sweet of him. It just makes me think even higher [of him]. I’m amazed our story reached him and that he took the time to reach out to us,” Schrage said. “He’s just trying to put a smile back on our girl’s face.”
Schrage said she still plans to keep the secret from Abby.
“She’ll be shocked, happy, amazed and all the great emotions,” Schrage said before pausing for a second. “I’m keeping it a secret for her so she gets a true surprise. That is going to be amazing. I’m very excited for her.”
The family was also gifted with tickets to the Cubs 2018 home opener after news broke about Abby’s missing picture.
Abby received that original signed photo along with a personalized letter from Rizzo in June after she finished her second round of chemotherapy and returned home after spending six days at the hospital.
In the letter, Rizzo opened up about his own battle with cancer.
Rizzo was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma when he was an 18-year-old minor league player in the Boston Red Sox farm system. He underwent six grueling months of chemotherapy, but has been in remission since 2008.
Abby was diagnosed with two germinoma brain tumors and beat it in 2016.
But that was only the beginning of Abby’s battle.
In May, Abby relapsed and has been in and out of the hospital since.
Abby, who is from Highland, Illinois, had a bone marrow transplant in September. She has remained at the Children’s Hospital since and has been dealing with some major complications.
Schrage said her daughter was on the “borderline” of death and has been in the PICU for 28 days.
“[Abby] was in a scary place,” Schrage said, but added that her daughter has made “tremendous improvements” over the last week.
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