Racing for Kids with Cancer

Published 12:00pm 26 October 2023

Racing for Kids with Cancer
Words by Nadia Chapman

V8 SuperUte Series Driver Jimmy Vernon ‘The Phantom’ will hit the road at this weekend’s Gold Coast 500, to raise funds for the Kids with Cancer Foundation.

Joining him for his race is 2.5-year-old cancer warrior Leo from North Lakes.

Leo will be pictured on Jimmy’s helmet for the race weekend, which will be held on October 27-29.

Leo’s mum, Jennifer and 12-year-old brother, Kai will also be heading to the Gold Coast for a weekend of behind-the-scenes action and racing fun.

The North Lakes family will get to meet Jimmy Vernon among other drivers, experience pit tours, grid walks and sit in Jimmy’s race car known as ‘The Purple Rocket.’

Leo was first diagnosed with cancer at just six months old, when on Christmas Eve in 2021 he had an ultrasound that revealed a liver tumour and lung cancer.

After a year of chemotherapy, blood tests and a full liver transplant, Leo defied all odds and was discharged from the ICU on day four and returned home 13 days after the operation.

Leo now has high frequency hearing loss and kidney damage from chemotherapy, but like a true warrior, he is continuing to reach his mobility, speech and listening milestones.

“He has smiled and laughed his way through this journey despite feeling sick, tired and stuck in hospital,” Jennifer says.

“Leo’s big brother Kai, who is almost 12, is his bestie. Kai is the one who brought the first big smile to Leo’s face after his liver transplant. Kai is an amazing big brother to Leo.

“Leo’s very smart and determined. His name suits him - Leo/Leonardo - brave-hearted and strong.

“To look at Leo, you would not know what his journey has been. He has a very strong body, a huge energy and zest for life and loves cars!”

Jimmy has been a proud ambassador for the Kids with Cancer Foundation since 2020, looking to raise awareness and raise funds to support the nearly 800 children diagnosed with cancer each year in Australia.

In fact, Jimmy has pledged 20 per cent of his corporate sponsorship funding to the Kids with Cancer Foundation, providing direct funding to the charity.

For more information about Jimmy Vernon and his charity efforts, visit jimmyvernon.com

The Gold Coast 500 is at the Surfers Paradise Suite Circuit.

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