MILWAUKEE -- A pair of All-Stars and rivals on the field are teaming up off of it.Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy and Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo are joining forces in support of the "Cancer Knows No Borders" campaign as they hope to encourage residents of Wisconsin and Illinois to donate
MILWAUKEE -- A pair of All-Stars and rivals on the field are teaming up off of it.
Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy and Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo are joining forces in support of the "Cancer Knows No Borders" campaign as they hope to encourage residents of Wisconsin and Illinois to donate to their choice of two cancer non-profit organizations, each of which is represented by one of the All-Stars.
Fans of the Brewers and Lucroy can donate to Wisconsin's Aurora Health Care Foundation (www.aurora.org/noborders). Rizzo, a cancer survivor, has selected his own non-profit, the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation (www.rizzo44.com), to be the recipient of donations by Cubs fans.
"Anytime that you can help people out through the platform that we have, I think it's important to take advantage of that," Lucroy said.
The "Cancer Knows No Borders" launched Friday and will run for 16 weeks, focusing its efforts on Wisconsin and Illinois. Roundy's Supermarkets and the USA Today Network-Wisconsin are also joining in on fundraising efforts. Customers at Wisconsin and Illinois-located Pick 'n Save, Copps, Metro Market and Mariano's store locations can donate to the cause, and USA Today Network sites in Wisconsin will include content, advertising and promotional materials created to raise awareness of the campaign.
Lucroy, batting .304 with an .852 OPS that ranked second among all Major League catchers entering the Brewers' series opener against the Cubs on Friday, regularly makes visits to children's hospitals to visit patients battling cancer.
"I have my 5-year-old here, and I couldn't imagine what it would be like if she had cancer," Lucroy said. "Playing against Rizz and Jon Lester, who had cancer, there's a lot of people in baseball that have had or know somebody that has had it. It's easy for me to relate to it.
"I'm very happy to be a part of this and lend my support to it, to bring some awareness, bring some attention to it and hopefully get some funding. Trying to find a cure, I think that's the ultimate goal in all of this, is to find a cure to get rid of this terrible disease. Whatever I can do to help out and contribute, I'm going to do and be a part of it."
For Rizzo, who was leading the National League in RBIs (77) and OPS (.999) and ranked second in homers (24) entering Friday, the disease hits a personal note. As an 18-year-old in the Red Sox organization, Rizzo was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. After six months of chemotherapy -- at the same time as his grandmother battled breast cancer -- he learned that he beat his cancer.
"It was insane to me because I just got drafted out of high school, my friends were going to college," Rizzo said. "I was on top of the world playing professional baseball, and then you get hit with a disease that I knew nothing about. It was a shock to me and my family. Thankfully where I was at at the time, the doctors explained it really well and I had really good doctors and they got me through it."
In 2012, Rizzo founded his non-profit foundation to support cancer research and help families and children fighting the disease.
"To bring awareness to that is what my foundation is all about," Rizzo said. "We just try to raise as much money for cancer research, we try to help individual families going through it. Because when I was going through the battle I saw my mom and dad and brother and they kind of looked worse than I did, and I was sick."
With Lucroy emerging as one of the top trade candidates as the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, the two-time All-Star said that he would like to expand the campaign to fight against cancer to whatever city he finds himself in if the Brewers do trade him.
"Who knows? Maybe wherever I could go, it could open a new avenue, open up a new opportunity to really help out, to broaden the horizons," Lucroy said. "If that does happen, we'll explore that."
Curt Hogg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Milwaukee.