Chicago Baseball

Kids Treated to Spring Training Trip Reunited With Favorite Cubs Players

It was a dream come true for Daniel Rodriguez: Attending Tuesday's Cubs vs. Sox game at Wrigley Field and meeting his idol Willson Contreras.

"[I'm] excited," he said.

It wasn't long ago that Daniel, who has down syndrome, was fighting for his life, Will Rodriguez, Daniel's father, recalled.

"And to think a year ago he was pretty much in a coma and here we are a year later,” he told NBC 5. “It’s a really big celebration.”

That celebration happens to be Daniel's tenth birthday.

And along with the excitement of Cubs and cake, it was a reunion of sorts, Daniel's mother Nyvia Rodriguez noted.

"It’s Daniel's birthday and we get to share it with the people that were with us back in Arizona," she said.

In February, thanks to a partnership between the Chicago Cubs, American Airlines and Advocate Children's Hospital, Daniel and nine other kids attended spring training with the Cubs in Mesa, Arizona.

The children have had to deal with a whole host of medical issues. Organizers say Tuesday's event was a chance to take in a ball game and just be kids.

“And they can lean on each other and just do things that are normal. Be normal kids--be normal parents," Advocate Healthcare VP of Communications Chris Priester said. "Forget about maybe the disease or their sickness or their hospital treatment and go to a ball game.”

It was also a time to remember and pay tribute to one of their own who died of cancer.

But, for all of them it was a day they'll likely never forget.

And for Daniel it was a birthday filled with love and appreciation--and a gift from his favorite baseball player. A signed helmet Contreras wore during the World Series.

“That was beautiful--unbelievable," Will said. "It almost brings me to tears, that was so nice of him."

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