Heartwarming moment at Wrigley: Cubs gift Spring Training trip to young fans

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MESA, Ariz. - There was a special surprise on Monday at Wrigley Field for some young baseball fans.

The Cubs are hooking up three young local hospital patients with a VIP experience.

Like their baseball heroes, the three young patients from Advocate Children's Hospital trotted onto the field at Wrigley as their names were announced over the loudspeaker.

Jon Slota, 15, of Portage Park, Ian Slagel, 11, of Monee, and Bria Schmidt, 16, of Mount Prospect, had no idea what was about to happen.

"You and your families have faced some pretty difficult health challenges," said Shannon Staley, a pediatric emergency physician at Advocate Children’s Hospital as she addressed the children. "And because of that we really think you deserve to have some fun."

And with that, Cubs third baseman Patrick Wisdom popped up on the left field scoreboard with a special invitation.

"You guys are going on an all-expenses paid trip to — drum roll please — Spring Training!" Wisdom announced. "Let's go! You guys get to come out and see us in Spring Training."

The young Cubs fans couldn’t believe what they had just seen.

"Shocked for sure," said Slagel, who also plays baseball. "It was pretty exciting. I didn't believe it."

"I was in the hospital for 32 days," said Slota. "It’s going to be awesome."

Their doctors say it's important to have something to look forward to, to get through the difficult times they've been dealing with.

"I think for our patients they go through so much that's not part of a normal childhood or normal family life," said Dr. Staley. "And to be able to give them an opportunity to really just relax, have fun, not think about all the medical challenges they've had over the past year or years in some cases."

All three also got custom Cubs jerseys with their names on the back for next week's trip.

Schmidt, a lymphoma patient, was asked about her favorite players.

"Probably Ian Happ or Dansby Swanson. They're amazing. What can't you love about them?"

When told she would likely be meeting both of her heroes next week, Bria covered her mouth and gasped. "I'm so excited honestly. I could have never asked for something better."

"She's been through a lot," said Bria’s mother, Lainie Schmidt. "And I'm glad that something happy can come out of this."