7-year-old Beckham Zobrist is not only beating cancer, but doing it in style.
In 2012, Zobrist was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a rare form of eye cancer found almost exclusively in children. He was just 3 years old.
In order to prevent the cancer from spreading from his eye to his brain, Zobrist’s right eye had to be removed. The procedure was successful, but his parents told WGN 9 News that he was bullied by other students for having a prosthetic eye.
“This kid just started calling him a freak and we saw him just shy away,” his mother Erin Zobrist told WGN.
That’s when Beckham asked for his Cubs eye as a Christmas present. While many prostheses aim to look as realistic as possible, Beckham wanted to represent his favorite team with his artificial eye, which had to be custom-made by his ocularist.
The idea was a hit with his family, friends, and apparently even the Chicago Cubs organization. In fact, the Cubs invited Beckham and his family to tour Wrigley Field, where he and his three brothers got to meet Cubs players and coaches.
Cubs bench coach Dave Martinez gave him a personal tour of the stadium, while injured Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber gave him a bat.
“He’s my idol, and I look up to him and other kids like him that’s gone through what he’s gone through and wish him all the best,” Martinez told WGN. “I told him he’s more than welcome to come back any time he wants.”
Star first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who survived Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2008, visited Beckham in the Cubs dugout and surprised the boy by telling him he too had survived cancer. Rizzo founded The Anthony Rizzo Foundation, a non-profit organization that raises money for cancer research and provides support to children and their families battling the disease.
Beckham’s father said the boy enjoyed the trip even more than a trip to Disney World sponsored by the Make-a-Wish foundation.
The Chicago Cubs also recently honored NBA broadcaster Craig Sager, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2014, and other cancer patients as part of “Conquer Cancer Day” on June 1.