IndyCar Racer Devlin DeFrancesco Walks the Walk for the Tiniest Babies

·2 min read
Photo credit: Greg Doherty - Getty Images
Photo credit: Greg Doherty - Getty Images

When it comes to his involvement in a new venture to promote critical neonatal care, NTT IndyCar Series driver Devlin DeFrancesco walks the walk and talks the talk from experience.

The Canadian driver and his family have formed an initiative called Racing for the Tiniest Babies that pledges to match all eligible donations up to $250,000 for Canada’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre’s DAN Women and Babies program, which supports thousands of families and premature babies across the Canadian province of Ontario each year.

Photo credit: Sunnybrook
Photo credit: Sunnybrook

The 22-year-old DeFrancesco, who is in his rookie IndyCar season for Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport, was born 15 weeks premature and weighed approximately two pounds at birth. “His prognosis at birth was grim,” a media release said.

Sunnybrook is located in Toronto and cared for DeFrancesco, who spent the first four months of his life in an incubator and overcame several health complications.

“If I wasn’t at Sunnybrook, I probably wouldn’t have survived,” DeFrancesco said in a media release. “My family and I will be eternally grateful for Sunnybrook’s care because nothing that followed would have been possible without them.”

DeFrancesco will serve as a spokesman for Sunnybrook’s DAN Women & Babies Program and its neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The program and NICU care for more than 4,000 babies across Ontario each year, including many high-risk pregnancies, deliveries, premature and sick babies, as well as “micro-preemies,” babies that have significantly low birth weight under three pounds and with high risks of complications.

“Devlin is just one of the thousands of examples of program graduates going on to big things, and we couldn’t be more proud,” Dr. Eugene Ng, chief of the Newborn and Development Pediatrics at the DAN Women & Babies Program.

DeFrancesco will compete in the upcoming July 15-17 Toronto Grand Prix in a car that will carry a special Sunnybrook design specifically for the race.

Follow Autoweek contributor Jerry Bonkowski on Twitter @JerryBonkowski