Anthony Rizzo
Angelo Almonte, Sofia Corgan, Phu Huynh, Bella Brown, Ava Jurick, Morgan Fink, Ethan Cruz, Anthony Arcodia, LJ Rusinoff, Stellina Almonte, and Ella Arcodia. {Courtesy The Anthony Rizzo Foundation.}

By Jill Fox

A group of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School sophomores teamed up with the Anthony Rizzo Foundation to make some families’ holiday wishes come true.

Known for his philanthropy, Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo hasn’t slowed down. During the pandemic, he supported frontline healthcare workers by donating masks and providing free meals.

Now, the World Series Champion and three-time MLB All-Star continues to step up to the plate for Rizzo’s Grant a Wish Spectacular.

Rizzo, who was diagnosed and treated for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2008, began his baseball career at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Now MSD students are giving back.

Sophomore Bella Brown, who spearheaded this effort, decided to get involved in the foundation because she saw first-hand what they did for a family friend.

“I knew directly where the donations were going to and how much of an impact it would make on these deserving families,” she said.

Along with Morgan Fink, Ava Jurick, Angelo Almonte, and LJ Rusinoff, Brown raised money to fulfill holiday wish lists for five families affected by childhood cancer.

The foundation organized the drive for the families in Florida and Chicago and paired their wish lists with teams of students, who raised money through GoFundMe accounts and Amazon’s Wish Lists.

Angelo Almonte, diagnosed with Burkitts Lymphoma in 2018, said the foundation really helped him out when he was sick.

“Anthony [Rizzo] would call me, they would send things, I got to go to a Cubs game — It’s a great foundation,” he said.

Now in remission, Almonte has been volunteering for events like the annual Walk-off for Cancer and Grant a Wish Spectacular.

The volunteers spent an afternoon at Almonte’s home wrapping Secret Santa presents, like toys, scooters, Lego sets, and pool floats.

Rizzo said families battling cancer struggle year-round, but the holidays are extra hard as money is even tighter.

“These gifts will help make sure Christmas morning is as special as ever.”

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Author Profile

Jill Fox
Jill Fox
Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She has worked in public relations and television for over 20 years. Fox lives in Parkland with her husband and their two children.