Highland 12-year-old Abby Schrage pulled back the window curtain in her room at St. Louis Children’s Hospital last Friday, expecting to see the prized Anthony Rizzo autograph the Chicago Cubs’ slugging star had sent to her.
It was gone.
The hospital has since confirmed that Rizzo, through his foundation, has sent a new photo with an autographed ball in the hopes it will be in Schrage’s hands by Wednesday, said Laura High, senior coordinator of media relations with Children’s Hospital.
“We want to do what’s right,” said High. “Obviously, we want to fulfill our patient’s needs for physical well-being, but take care of their mental needs as well. This is a big deal to Abby.”
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Schrage has been battling cancer since 2016 when she was treated for two germinoma brain tumors. She relapsed in May and had to return to Children’s Hospital for a bone marrow transplant in September. Abby has been in the pediatric intensive care unit for 28 days.
Although her father is a St. Louis Cardinals fan, Schrage adopted her mothers’ hometown Cubs as her favorite team and Rizzo as her favorite player because he also is a cancer survivor.
In 2008, Rizzo was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and endured six months of chemotherapy. He has been in remission since and has launched the Rizzo Family Foundation to benefit cancer research.
The Cubs’ first baseman sent an autographed photo along with a letter. The photo was taped to the inside of the window of her hospital room.
“I just kind of hoped it would brighten her spirits, help cheer her up, especially since Anthony Rizzo also had childhood cancer himself,” Jill Schrage, Abby’s mother, told KMOV-TV. “That’s a great inspiration to show her when you are done with this battle, nothing can stop you.”
It’s been missing since last Friday. Hospital security has been investigating its disappearance since.
“Our team has reviewed the security video I’m not sure how many times in an effort to find out what might have happened to it,” said High.
When news of the suspected theft broke, High said the hospital contacted Rizzo’s foundation. She said she confirmed a new photo “and, perhaps an autographed ball” was mailed Abby’s way Monday.
The Chicago Sun-Times, citing only social media sources, reported that Rizzo also sent an signed jersey.
A GoFundMe page has been established to support the Schrage family.