NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- On Sunday in Parkland, Fla., Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo will host his first "Walk Off for Cancer" to raise money for cancer research. He knows how important this is. He's a cancer survivor himself.
Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio's mother died two years ago at Christmas after a long battle with cancer. His father had cancer. Bosio lost his brother to lung cancer. His mother-in-law and father-in-law both have cancer. His wife had cancer. Bosio created a foundation to raise money to help families dealing with cancer.
"We all have people we know and loved ones affected by it," Bosio said. "It's something near and dear to my heart."
Baseball's Winter Meetings this week include an MLB.com Auction to benefit Stand Up To Cancer, which MLB has supported since 2008 as founding sponsor. Public relations representatives from all 30 clubs were inspired to act based on individual club members impacted by the disease, and they jointly organized the auction and announced it Monday in Nashville with MLB staff. Bidding closes at 10:59 p.m. CT on Thursday, with more than 70 baseball-related experiences ranging from clubhouse tours by players to lunches with general managers to team bus rides to meet-and-greets with 14 Hall of Fame players.
The Cubs are auctioning four tickets and pregame field passes to a regular-season game, including a ride to and from the ballpark on the Cubs Trolley, subject to availability. You also can bid on four tickets and pregame field passes to a regular-season Cubs game, including a behind-the-scenes tour of the press box, and spend one inning in the WGN Radio booth and one inning in the Cubs' television booth. There is also an offering of four owners seats tickets and a pregame meet-and-greet with a to-be-determined Cubs player.
On Mother's Day, Major League Baseball players and coaches do their part to raise awareness by wearing pink wristbands and using pink bats. Cubs third baseman Ian Stewart wrote his mother's name, his wife's name and his mother-in-law's name on his pink wristband in honor of Mother's Day, and then hit a solo home run with a pink bat to celebrate.
Rizzo wants to do more. Diagnosed in April 2008 with limited state classical Hodgkin's lymphoma, he hopes to have 1,000 people join him on the five-kilometer walk through Pine Trails Park. With one week to go, he has raised more than $53,000. Fans interested in joining his walk or making a donation can go to www.Rizzo44.com for more information.
He's not the only cancer survivor on the Cubs. Outfielder Tony Campana was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma as a child and underwent several surgical procedures. At 7, he had a tumor removed and months of chemotherapy followed. After 10 years, doctors declared him cured. In 2011, Campana was voted the winner of the 22nd annual Tony Conigliaro Award.
When he was first diagnosed, Campana didn't understand how serious his condition was.
"A kid doesn't think he could die," he said. "He just knows he's sick."
During the season, Rizzo and Campana visited patients at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago. Their message? You can beat cancer.
"Sometimes we go into a room and just say hi, cheer them up," Rizzo said. "Other times, we'd talk to them a little more and tell them Tony and I are both survivors and what we went through, and we know it's not fun."
Bosio also knows how cancer can affect a family. Sixteen years ago, he created his foundation, and last spring the Cubs made a $20,000 donation through Cubs Charities.
"A lot of times, the little things get overlooked," Bosio said. "They're cancer patients, and some of them don't have great insurance and they've been paying for treatments for a long time. I was one of those kids growing up, and remember that. It's something I can relate to personally."
You can help, too, by joining the Cubs and MLB, and stand up to cancer.