Small Advocate Patients Headed To Cubs Spring Training

Lisa Fielding
February 18, 2019 - 1:29 pm

WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Monday marked a big day for some small patients at Advocate Children's Hospital.

"Morgan, Mia, Joey, Billy, Jonathon, Angel and Kyrell, " Cubs Pitcher Kyle Hendricks broke the big news in a pre-recorded message. "Surprise guys, pack your bags,  you're leaving in three days for Spring Training. We can't wait to see you. Go Cubs."

Seven children, ages 9 to 13, and their families were surprised with the trip thanks to the Chicago Cubs and American Airlines.

"All they said was that we were going somewhere today," said Joey Pachowicz, 11.

The 6th grader was diagnosed with Leukemia in May. His father Jason said the trip is just what the doctor ordered.

"We knew this was happening. It was a tough secret to keep," he laughed. "It means everything. He's been going through so much. To put a smile on his face, to actually be able to do something. He hasn't even been going to school for the last year."

Joey said he always wanted to go to Spring Training.

"I've never even been on a plane. I can't wait to tell my friends," he said.

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"Part of our partnership is to really make a difference in the community and create unique experiences for our patients and I cannot think of a better way to do that than through what we announced today," said Kelly Jo Golson, Chief Marketing Officer, Advocate Aurora Health.

The chosen patients are all lifelong Cubs fans, who are battling various illnesses from cancer, congenital heart defects and sickle cell disease.

"It's really a phenomenal trip for them. One of the things we hear from the parents is these kids they are going through so many struggles, so much time and treatment in the hospital. They really are just looking for some normalcy and to be able to offer something like this to distract them, to take their minds away from their health conditions and just allow them to be happy, go luck kids, it's really an experience of a lifetime," she said.

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Deanne Meiszner's 13-year-old daughter Morgan has Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.

"She and her best friend Mia both have Hypoplastic so they are both going. Morgan has a half a heart and had to get it repaired. She's been through a lot. She lives life to the fullest and loves to party," laughed Meiszner.

"She can't get over going on a plane with her friend. That's what she's so excited about. Cubs come second right now, I hate to say."

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Morgan said she suspected something was up on Monday when her family drove her to Wrigley Field.

"When I came in, I saw the field and thought, what's going on? I thought maybe we'd be going on a trip. I'm so excited we're going to Arizona. My grandparents and my aunt and uncle live there too. I just want to get out of the snow," she laughed.

The group will leave on Thursday for Mesa.  The kids will also get to meet the Cubs players and coaches and will be attending the home opener on Feb. 23.