Devlin DeFrancesco, a rookie driving for Andretti Autosport in the NTT IndyCar Series, has unveiled a campaign to support the Toronto hospital that saved his life as a child.
DeFrancesco was born 15 weeks premature, and had to undergo months of constant care at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. His initial prognosis was so bad that at one point he was given last rights by a priest.
The doctors at the facility were able to help him make it through several major setbacks in his early life, and he is now healthy enough to compete in IndyCar alongside a host of other fit athletes.
He is always mindful of the people that helped him recover as he continues to pursue his career as a racing driver.
“If I wasn’t at Sunnybrook, I probably wouldn’t have survived,” said DeFrancesco. “My family and I will be eternally grateful for Sunnybrook’s care because nothing that followed would have been possible without them.
“I was born 16 weeks early. I spent four months in Sunnybrook’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Toronto, Ontario. I wasn’t expected to survive. My family brought a priest in to deliver my last rights.
“Luckily those doctors saved my life, and helped me make it through. I’m entirely grateful to teams of doctors and nurses like them who have saved me and helped other families like mine.”
The 22-year-old is now launching the Racing for the Tiniest Babies campaign to give back to the program that saved his life, pledging to match donations up to $250,000.
The hospital will also be featured on the sidepod of DeFrancesco’s car for the upcoming Honda Indy Toronto race, which is set to be run for the first time since 2019 in mid-July.
DeFrancesco will also run a special helmet for the weekend, which will be unveiled as the race approaches.