Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo fed nurses and doctors in the Central Maine Heart and Vascular Institute at Central Maine Medical Center on Friday. Dr. Paul Wedner, second from right, who is friends with Rizzo, brought in a flag with a “W” that he had in Chicago when he saw the Cubs play in the 2016 World Series. Submitted photo

Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo wanted to help his former host family.

When Rizzo was a member of the Boston Red Sox organization and playing for the Portland Sea Dogs, he was placed with Paul Weldner and his family in Falmouth for the 2010 season. At the time, Weldner, a cardiologist, was working at Maine Medical Center, but he has since moved to Central Maine Heart and Vascular Institute (CMHVI) at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.

Rizzo has stayed in touch with the Weldner family since being traded to San Diego in December 2010 as part of the deal that sent Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox.

Knowing Weldner works in the medical field, Rizzo reached out to his former host parent and asked how he could, through the Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation, help Weldner and his cardiology staff as they work to help contain the coronavirus.

The foundation usually raises money for cancer research and to provide support to children and their families battling cancer. Rizzo overcame Hodkin’s lymphoma in 2008.

“He basically reached out to me and said, ‘Paul I am giving out meals to a bunch of hospitals in your area and I would like your unit to benefit from it,’” Weldner said. “So, we arranged it and that happened today.”

Weldner reached out to the nurse leadership on the CMHVI unit to work out the details of what the staff wanted to eat. The staff decided on Boba, a popular place among the nurses on Lisbon St. in Lewiston.

“They had a history of ordering food from them, and they thought that would be a great place to help out in Boba,” Weldner said. “They ordered two sets of meals, one for the afternoon shift and I guess another meal is coming for the evening shift. And they just ordered a whole bunch of individual meals so people didn’t have to gather in one place.”

Rizzo also sent an engraved baseball, thanking Weldner his service.

Did the nurse staff know who Anthony Rizzo was?

“I told the staff they probably would have been more appreciative if it were a Red Sox player,” Weldner said. “Some of them kind of knew, but no one knew why I brought the ‘W’ flag. I kind of explained when the Cubs win a game, they fly the ‘W.’”

That flag Weldner showed his staff has a special meaning to Weldner as it was the flag that he took to Chicago with him to see Rizzo play in Game 4 of the 2016 World Series against the Cleveland Indians. The Cubs ended the 108-year World Series drought that year, winning in seven games. Rizzo scored seven runs and had five RBIs in the Series.

Weldner also attended Rizzo’s wedding in 2018.


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