Cubs’ gift to 4 young pa­tients a home run

Team pro­vid­ing free trip to spring train­ing in Ari­zona

Chicago Sun-Times - - CITY BEAT - BY MADE­LINE KEN­NEY Staff Re­porter Email: mken­ney@ sun­times. com Twit­ter: @ mad­ken­ney

The Cubs sur­prised four young pa­tients and their best friends and fam­ily mem­bers with a once- in- al­ife­time trip Wed­nes­day.

The pa­tients, who all are re­ceiv­ing treat­ment at Ad­vo­cate Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal for var­i­ous forms of can­cer and heart is­sues, were in­vited to join the Cubs next week at spring train­ing in Mesa, Ari­zona.

None of the young pa­tients — rang­ing in age from 12 to 17 — had any clue why they were asked to meet at the Amer­i­can Air­lines Con­fer­ence Cen­ter near Wrigley Field. That was un­til the lights dimmed and Cubs out­fielder Al­bert Almora Jr. ap­peared on the screen to an- nounce they all were get­ting a free trip to spring train­ing.

Zachary Lum, a 17- year- old bat­tling can­cer who is also an avid Cubs fan, said he knew some­thing was up this week when his par­ents told him they were go­ing on a trip to Mil­wau­kee.

“She tried to trick me,” Lum joked while point­ing at his mother, Donna Potts, after the video. “But I was like, yeah, OK, it’s def­i­nitely spring train­ing be­cause it’s in Fe­bru­ary.”

Although Potts knew that the Cubs were go­ing to of­fi­cially in­vite Lum to spring train­ing, she was still over­come with emo­tion see­ing Lum’s smile, es­pe­cially after his ar­du­ous jour­ney this past year.

Lum was di­ag­nosed with Os­teosar­coma, a type of bone can­cer, in 2017, and he had his right leg am­pu­tated shortly after doc­tors found a tu­mor be­low his knee.

“It’s over­whelm­ing,” Potts said. “It’s been a wild ride with all the treat­ments and ev­ery­thing over the last year, and I can’t ex­plain it. It’s a glim­mer of nor­malcy.

“I love his smile, and to see him smile through­out all of this, it warms my heart.”

This is the sec­ond time the Cubs have in­vited kids bat­tling ad­ver­sity to spring train­ing. Last year, the Cubs helped co­or­di­nate free trips for nine pa­tients. Ad­vo­cate Health mar­ket­ing co­or­di­na­tor Cristina Enea said this trip cre­ates a spe­cial bond be­tween the fam­i­lies.

The in­vi­tees will en­joy per­sonal time with Cubs play­ers and coaches, plus a va­ri­ety of be­hind- the- scenes ex­pe­ri­ences. They’ll also re­ceive swag bags, play catch with play­ers and par­tic­i­pate in team stretches.

The group will de­part Chicago on Mon­day and spend three days in Ari­zona be­fore re­turn­ing Feb. 21.

Lum said he’s ex­cited about this op­por­tu­nity be­fore he fin­ishes his last two rounds of chemo­ther­apy.

“It’s not nec­es­sar­ily an es­cape,” Lum said. “I see it more of an op­por­tu­nity.

“Yes, hav­ing can­cer sucks, but also be­ing out with my fam­ily and friends, it’s go­ing to be great. And see­ing the team I love the most play, it’s awe­some.”

| MADE­LINE KEN­NEY/ SUN- TIMES

Zachary Lum couldn’t stop smil­ing after he heard the news he was go­ing to Cubs spring train­ing.

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