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Rizzo donates $3.5M to children's hospital

MLB.com @CarrieMuskat

CHICAGO -- A cancer survivor himself, the Cubs' Anthony Rizzo has been a regular visitor to the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago, trying to boost the spirits of the kids there. On Tuesday he delivered a $3.5 million gift to the hospital and cut the ribbon on the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation Waiting Room.

"It was a long time in the making," Rizzo said. "It's obviously a step in the right direction for the foundation to help as much as we can. Today everything came to fruition. To see the jersey that the kids signed when we go there, it was pretty special."

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CHICAGO -- A cancer survivor himself, the Cubs' Anthony Rizzo has been a regular visitor to the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago, trying to boost the spirits of the kids there. On Tuesday he delivered a $3.5 million gift to the hospital and cut the ribbon on the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation Waiting Room.

"It was a long time in the making," Rizzo said. "It's obviously a step in the right direction for the foundation to help as much as we can. Today everything came to fruition. To see the jersey that the kids signed when we go there, it was pretty special."

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Rizzo, who was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma when he was a Minor Leaguer in the Red Sox organization, unveiled an interactive mural in the waiting room and a framed Rizzo jersey, which the patients have signed during his visits. His foundation has created two endowed funds for patients being treated for cancer and their families. One provides grants on a case-by-case basis for families facing financial hardship due to unexpected needs. The second supports two oncology Child Life specialists, a position funded entirely by philanthropy.

"It's kind of staggering," manager Joe Maddon said of the foundation's efforts. "It's one thing to give money, but he's always there [visiting patients]. I know he gets recognition, but I don't think he gets enough."

Rizzo hasn't forgotten the days when he had to undergo treatment.

"Today was a day when I had flashbacks [about] sitting in the waiting rooms and going through the treatments and being sick," Rizzo said. "I don't do that much, but today was one of the days when it got to me."

His message to kids is "Stay Strong, Dream Big," and he has tried to share that with the patients he visits.

"I feel I try to do a really good job of keeping baseball in perspective," he said. "You go out there between the lines and give it your all, give it your best, and that's all you can do. There's so much more to life than baseball. It's a balance -- you have to learn how to balance that. You have to go out there and have a job to do. I put my heart and soul into baseball, and when I leave the field, I try to just be Anthony, not the baseball player."

Jon Lester, on the disabled list since Aug. 18 with fatigue in his left shoulder, was to have a side session on Wednesday. He threw 47 pitches over three innings in a simulated game on Monday, and the Cubs want to see how he feels after Wednesday to determine the next step.

Shortstop Addison Russell, sidelined since Aug. 3 with a strained right foot, will play his second game with Triple-A Iowa as part of a rehab assignment on Wednesday. He went 1-for-3 with a double in his first at-bat on Monday.

Reliever Justin Grimm, out since Aug. 18 with an infection in his right index finger, will pitch for Iowa on Thursday. He struck out two and served up a solo home run in one inning on Monday.

• Maddon wanted to ride the hot bat and inserted Tommy La Stella at second base for his fourth straight start. La Stella, whose role is primarily as a reserve, was batting .364 in August.

"He knows his place," Maddon said. "He doesn't complain when he doesn't play a lot. He's doing so well, it's hard to keep him out. He's hitting for power, too. ... He's got a really powerful swing. I want to ride that a little bit."

• Cubs Charities will join the fight to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey by donating Wednesday's 50/50 Raffle proceeds to the American Red Cross. The American Red Cross is working to provide safe shelter and comfort for the many people affected by the storm.

Fans will be able to purchase 50/50 raffle tickets from uniformed Cubs Charities sellers starting two hours before the game until the middle of the seventh inning. The winning ticket will be announced at the top of the ninth inning, and the winner will receive a check for half of the net proceeds from the raffle sales. The other half will be donated to the American Red Cross.

Those not attending Wednesday's game can make a donation to the American Red Cross to support Hurricane Harvey disaster relief and recovery efforts by visiting www.YouCaring.com/MLBSupports.

• Maddon is hosting the "Burnout Classic and Casino Night Fundraiser" on Saturday at Fields Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge/RAM in Glenview, Ill., and will donate a portion of the proceeds to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

The event will include a silent auction, plus 15 to 20 classic '60s and '70s Mopar muscle cars on display.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast.

Chicago Cubs, Anthony Rizzo