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Toronto INDYCAR Racer Devlin DeFrancesco Launches New Campaign Benefitting Sunnybrook Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that Saved His Life

·3 min read

TORONTO, June 22, 2022 /CNW/ - Toronto native and NTT INDYCAR SERIES race car driver, Devlin DeFrancesco, and Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre announced today the launch of Racing for the Tiniest Babies a new initiative raising funds and awareness for Sunnybrook's DAN Women & Babies Program, which supports thousands of families and premature babies across the province each year.

DeFrancesco and his family’s Racing for the Tiniest Babies initiative raises money for Sunnybrook’s DAN Women & Babies Program - Racing for the Tiniest Babies pledges to match all eligible donations up to $250,000 (CNW Group/Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre)
DeFrancesco and his family’s Racing for the Tiniest Babies initiative raises money for Sunnybrook’s DAN Women & Babies Program - Racing for the Tiniest Babies pledges to match all eligible donations up to $250,000 (CNW Group/Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre)

Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport racer DeFrancesco is the very definition of the campaign's #BornFast hashtag, as he was born 15 weeks early and weighed less than one kilogram. His prognosis at birth was grim. However, DeFrancesco spent the first four months of his life in an incubator at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and overcame several significant health complications.

"If I wasn't at Sunnybrook, I probably wouldn't have survived," says DeFrancesco. "My family and I will be eternally grateful for Sunnybrook's care because nothing that followed would have been possible without them."

The Racing for the Tiniest Babies campaign will highlight DeFrancesco's extraordinary story – from weighing less than one kilogram to racing in one of the top series in the world. This initiative will also showcase Sunnybrook's DAN Women & Babies Program and neonatal intensive care unit. More than 4,000 babies from across the province are born each year at Sunnybrook including many high-risk deliveries, premature and sick babies along with "micro-preemies".

"From working to prevent premature births and caring for preterm infants, to understanding the complexity of multiple births, we are working tirelessly to provide world-leading care for families," said Dr. Eugene Ng, Chief, Newborn and Development Pediatrics at the DAN Women & Babies Program. "Devlin is just one of the thousands of examples of program graduates going on to big things, and we couldn't be more proud."

DeFrancesco and his family are generously matching all donations to the campaign up to $250,000, which will support Sunnybrook's DAN Women & Babies Program and help the hospital's most vulnerable patients survive and thrive while providing personalized care for women with high-risk pregnancies.

DeFrancesco makes his Honda Indy Toronto debut when the race makes its return to the city from July 15 to July 17. Sunnybrook is inviting the community to enter a draw for a chance to win a pair of VIP passes to the Honda Toronto Indy and sign a Cheer Card for DeFrancesco. Sunnybrook will share these messages of support and encouragement with DeFrancesco before he hits the start line in Toronto.

Prior to the Honda Indy Toronto, DeFrancesco and his racing team, Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport, will unveil the No. 29 car and DeFrancesco's racing helmet that will be used exclusively for the Toronto race. More details to follow.

More information on Racing for the Tiniest Babies can be found at Sunnybrook.ca/BornFast.

Hear more from Devlin DeFrancesco as he talks about Racing for the Tiniest Babies and what Sunnybrook means to him and his family: https://vimeo.com/722685626

About Devlin DeFrancesco

Devlin DeFrancesco is a Canadian race car driver in his first year driving in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. He drives the No. 29 car for Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport and has been racing since he was six years old.

About Sunnybrook's DAN Women & Babies Program

More than 4,000 babies from across the province are born each year at Sunnybrook's DAN Women & Babies Program. Of these, 27 per cent are high-risk deliveries. Within the program, the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, cares for 600 premature and sick babies a year, 60 of who are considered "micro-preemies," each weighing less than three pounds. These tiny patients risk serious complications and disease and need twenty-four hours of support from the care team including parents.

SOURCE Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

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