devlin defrancesco

Toronto professional race car driver launches campaign with Sunnybrook Hospital

Toronto NTT Indycar Series race car driver, Devlin DeFrancesco, along with Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre announced the launch of “Racing for the Tiniest Babies”, a new initiative to raise funds and awareness for the DAN Women & Babies Program, which specializes in caring for premature babies and women with high-risk pregnancies.

The campaign is especially near and dear to DeFrancesco’s heart: He weighed just over one pound when he was born 15 weeks premature, and he went on to spend four months in Sunnybrook’s NICU. And while his chance of survival was low — early on, he experienced a number of health complications including a collapsed lung and a brain bleed — he went on to overcome these challenges and forge a significant racing career.

“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.”

The campaign will also showcase Sunnybrook’s DAN Women & Babies Program and neonatal intensive care unit. Each year, more than 4,000 babies from across Ontario are born at the hospital. Of these, 27 per cent are high-risk deliveries, and the NICU cares for 600 premature and sick babies a year, 60 of whom are considered micro-preemies, each weighing less than three pounds.

DeFrancesco and his family will match all donations to the campaign up to $250,000, which will support the program while providing personalized care for women with high-risk pregnancies.

The twenty-two-year-old will make his Honda Indy Toronto debut in July. Prior to the event, DeFrancesco and his racing team, Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport, will unveil the No. 29 car and the racing helmet that will be used exclusively for the race.

Sunnybrook is inviting the community to enter a draw for a chance to win a pair of VIP passes to the race and sign a cheer card for DeFrancesco. They will then share these messages of encouragement with the rising young star before he hits the start line at Exhibition Place.