A DeKalb family recently had the experience of a lifetime at Wrigley Field, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Cubs’ star first baseman, Anthony Rizzo.
Lyle Hinsch, four-year-old son of Peter and Stephanie Hinsch of DeKalb, was diagnosed with a brain tumor a few days after his first birthday and underwent a full year of chemotherapy treatments at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago. During one of his treatments, he and his mother met Rizzo and got a signed baseball cap from him. Rizzo regularly visits kids in the cancer ward at Lurie Children’s.
“Being a pediatric cancer survivor himself, he understands what the families are going through,” said Lyle’s dad, Peter Hinsch. “He’s just an incredibly giving person.”
Later on, Lyle’s doctor talked to the Make-A-Wish Foundation because of Lyle’s life-threatening condition, and the doctor and the social worker filled out the paperwork for Lyle to have a wish granted by the organization. Last year, the family was notified that the Make-A-Wish Foundation was going to grant Lyle a wish.
Since meeting Rizzo that day at the hospital, Lyle had became more interested in the Cubs and started following Rizzo more closely. Every time they would go to his grandma and grandpa’s house, they would watch the Cubs. And Lyle’s grandma would often call to tell them that Rizzo got a home run, after which, Lyle would run around the house screaming with glee.
“Lyle has always had a huge fascination with baseball,” said Peter Hinsch. “Ask him, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ and he’s always said he wants to be a baseball player.” So it made sense for Lyle to go to Wrigley Field and hang out with Rizzo and the Cubs.
They were originally supposed to go on April 16th, but it ended up being twenty degrees and snowing that day and the game was canceled. They were rescheduled for Sunday, August 5th. That morning, the whole family (Peter, Stephanie, Lyle and his little sister, Vivian) drove in to Chicago and checked into their hotel. Then they got picked up by a limousine and rode to Wrigley Field in style.
“Make-A-Wish provided the limo,” explained Peter Hinsch. “They paid for everything on our trip. All of our expenses. All of our food. Absolutely everything, so we didn’t have to worry about spending any of our own money. It was so incredible.”
They met the Make-A-Wish Coordinator at the VIP entrance to Wrigley and got to see a number of players entering the facility. American Airlines was a co-sponsor of the event, so there was also a pilot there in full uniform to greet them. They presented Lyle with several really cool gifts, including a custom-made #44 jersey (same number as Rizzo) with “Lyle” on the back, and a framed picture of the entrance to Wrigley Field with “Welcome, Lyle” on the famous marquee.
Then they were escorted to their ultimate VIP seats, in the very front row next to the Cubs dugout. During their visit, they had cameras following them around, because they were filming part of a promotional video. Since they arrived an hour before the game, they got to see all of the players warming up, were escorted onto the field, and visited the inside of the bullpen area where the pitchers warm up and met several of the players who were in there. They also got to take a couple of leaves from the ivy on the outfield wall.
Then they went to the dugout and met Willson Contreras, the Cubs’ catcher. “He was so good with the kids. He gave them high fives and visited with them,” said Peter Hinsch.
While they were in the dugout, they were brought some drinks as they waited for Rizzo to greet them. Eventually, Rizzo came out with Kris Bryant and they got to watch them film a commercial at the other end of the dugout. Then both Rizzo and Bryant came over to visit with Lyle and his family.
“Lyle was bouncing off the walls. He was so happy,” said Hinsch. Rizzo and Bryant signed a couple of “Bryzzo” balls and a picture frame for them. Rizzo also signed Lyle’s hat and jersey and then they took some pictures in the dugout.
Then Rizzo took Lyle by the hand and they walked up the stairs of the dugout and onto the field together. After playing catch for a bit, they had a private moment out on the field, where Rizzo knelt down and talked to Lyle. “I don’t know what they said,” said Peter Hinsch. “That was their special moment together.”
“Just to see my son being able to play catch with his hero was such a blessing and I’ll never forget that experience,” Hinsch said. “He was just the happiest little kid in the whole world. After all the suffering he had been through, to be able to have that experience was so incredibly perfect.”
After that moment, the family got access to the brand new VIP lounge and had lunch down there, before watching the game from the best seats in the house. When the game was over, the kids got to go out onto the field and run the bases. “The whole thing was amazing,” said Peter Hinsch.
Then they were driven back via limo to their hotel, where they stayed the night. Make-A-Wish extended their Chicago experience by sending them to the Shedd Aquarium the next day with all-access passes, where the kids got to pet stingrays and a great lakes sturgeon. They also were given some money to buy souvenirs. After they had seen everything at the aquarium, they headed back to DeKalb.
“We are so grateful and Make-A-Wish is such an incredible organization,” said Peter Hinsch. “It’s the best in humanity that makes these kind of things happen. For all of the negativity that we see in our world, an experience like this is something I will always treasure in my heart and be very eager to share with other people. It was just such an amazing and positive thing for everyone involved.”
Lyle still talks about how much fun he had meeting the Cubs and he wants to play baseball now more than ever. “You can tell he just had the time of his life,” said Peter Hinsch. “He always wants to wear his Cubs hat.”
Medical History and Prognosis
Lyle Hinsch had started vomiting after eating when he was eight-months old. For several months he was tested for everything from food allergies to gastrointestinal issues. Finally, they decided to scan his brain. After doing an MRI and finding a tumor on a Friday, they performed emergency surgery the following Monday and were able to remove about 75-80% of the tumor.
However, Lyle continued to vomit regularly over the next 6-7 months and he was not able to walk or gain any weight. Eventually, he was so malnourished from vomiting that his doctor was afraid Lyle was going to have permanent developmental problems if something drastic wasn’t done. They decided to begin chemotherapy to try to shrink the rest of the tumor. They also began feeding Lyle intravenously to get him nutrients while bypassing his stomach. Through the TPN (Total Parenteral Nutrition) treatment and the chemotherapy, Lyle was eventually able to gain weight. After twelve rounds of chemotherapy over the course of a year, Lyle finally stopped vomiting from tumor-related symptoms in August of 2016.
“By the grace of God, he has been healed through the miracle of modern medicine,” said Peter Hinsch.
There is still something that shows up in Lyle’s brain scans, which could be benign tumor tissue or scar tissue from the surgery, but doctors are keeping a close eye on it and it’s been stable for a couple of years now. Lyle will continue to get MRIs done on a regular basis for the rest of his life, but at this point, there hasn’t been any growth and things are looking better for his future.
Donate to the Make-A-Wish Foundation: http://illinois.wish.org/ways-to-help/giving
Donate to the Lurie Children’s Hospital: https://www.luriechildrens.org/en/ways-to-help/donate/