On Thursday night, Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo traded in his bat and glove for a knife and fork as his foundation hosted its fifth annual “Cook Off for Cancer.”
The sold-out event drew Cubs players like Miguel Montero, Jake Arrieta, and Jon Lester, and it also featured tons of food and fun for attendees of the sold out event.
“This is amazing. The platform we are on as professional athletes, to do this for my charity is amazing,” Rizzo said. “We’re looking to raise a million dollars tonight. To come from where we were five years ago to wanting to raise a million dollars in an event is incredible.”
The event also featured an auction that was sprinkled with gear from the Cubs’ World Series run, including champagne bottles and plenty of autographed memorabilia, and signatures from some of the greatest players in the game, including a ball signed by New York Yankees Hall of Famer Babe Ruth.
Rizzo’s cook-off also drew some of the families that his foundation was designed to help, including Sue Erickson and her five-year old son Matthew.
“Not only has the entire foundation embraced us, but his entire family has embraced us too,” she said. “To us, it’s more than a foundation. They are our family. We will be connected to them forever.”
Plenty of families feel the same way about Rizzo, and a big part of the reason for that is Rizzo’s massive donation that his foundation recently made to Lurie Children’s Hospital. The grants, which totaled $3.5 million, were designed to pay for a pair of social workers and to help families deal with the bills and unexpected obstacles that come up while loved ones are dealing with cancer treatment.
“To be able to give grants to families directly and help them pay financially (is great),” Rizzo said. “When I was sick the Boston Red Sox paid for all of our bills and that took a huge burden off my parents, where they were just able to take care of me and not have to worry about how they were going to pay the bills.”
While Rizzo’s highlight of the night is being able to help out families, the decadent food options were something that he was well prepared for.
“I like everything. I’m a big Italian guy, but every year the food seems to get better,” he said. “I haven’t eaten since before the game, so I’m starving. I can’t wait to eat.”