There was nothing suspicious noticed in the hallways around Abby Schrage’s room at St. Louis Children’s Hospital the day her autographed picture of Anthony Rizzo went missing.
It was taped to the inside of a window so that Chicago Cubs’ slugging first baseman was the first thing to greet the Highland 12-year-old when the curtains were opened each morning. It’s more likely the picture fell into the trash can beneath the window than it is that it was stolen, hospital security determined.
That was little solace to Schrage, who has called the pediatric intensive care unit at Children’s home for the last 29 days. That is, at least, until the mail arrived Wednesday.
Rizzo sent a replacement and then some. The package also included a Cubs’ jersey, autographed in silver ink across Rizzo’s No. 44.
Children’s Hospital President Joan Magruder did the honors of presenting the new souvenirs to Rizzo’s biggest fan, who leaned back in her hospital bed with her thumbs up, still weakened by a bone marrow transplant surgery in September.
“At St. Louis Children’s Hospital we care for a child’s physical and emotional health. We understand items like this symbolize a lot, not just to the child but to the entire family,” said Magruder. “We wanted to do whatever we could to support Abby so she and her family could focus on healing.
“We were eager and happy to reach out to the Anthony Rizzo Foundation and work with their team on a replacement for Abby as quickly as possible.”
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 the bone marrow transplant.
We understand items like this symbolize a lot, not just to the child but to the entire family. We wanted to do whatever we could to support Abby so she and her family could focus on healing.
Joan Magruder, Children’s Hospital President
Although her father is a St. Louis Cardinals fan, Schrage adopted her mother’s 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 were eliminated from the Major League Baseball post season when they fell in five games to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series. Efforts to contact Rizzo or a representative of his foundation were unsuccessful.