When I decided to become a race car driver, I knew that I wanted to make a difference and be known as a man and driver who stands for something. In 2006, I met a little boy named Sammy Harley who taught me about having HoPE.
My mom is a pediatric nurse, and Sammy was one of her special patients. Sammy was born in 2003 with a condition called Holoprosencephaly (HPE). HPE is the most common malformation of the brain in a developing fetus, and because it occurs between day 17-21 of fetal development, the pregnancy often ends in early miscarriage. Current studies indicate that only 3% of all fetuses with HPE survive to delivery, and a vast majority of these infants do not survive past the first 6 months of life. My buddy, Sammy, survived these odds.
After meeting Sammy and being touched by the heartwarming stories of other children with HPE, I offered my race car as a vehicle for helping to raise awareness and inspire HoPE. Along with a few friends who also had children born with HPE, Sammy’s mother Leslie Harley helped form Families for HoPE, Inc., a nonprofit organization that serves families and children diagnosed with HPE.
In the six years since my partnership with Families for HoPE began, I have had the privilege to meet many families and children with HPE through my participation at conferences, fundraisers, and awareness events. To quote a popular saying in the HPE world, “A diagnosis of HPE is heartbreaking, and the statistics on HPE are devastating; however, the courage and determination of infants and children with HPE and their families are truly inspiring.”