Just days after he was carried off the track on a stretcher and airlifted to a nearby hospital, NASCAR driver and Richard Petty Motorsports driver, Aric Almirola appeared at a star-studded charity event in order to keep his promise to a little boy battling cancer.
Almirola and his wife appeared together at the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation’s “Catwalk for a Cause” event on Wednesday night (May 17th) – an appearance that shocked many people who saw him there. In fact, Almirola’s doctors even warned him not to go, but he refused to let down 5-year-old Devin.
During Saturday’s Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway, Almirola was caught up in a three-car wreck that ended in an explosive and fiery mess. Traveling at such a high rate of speed, this NASCAR driver unfortunately received the worst of the injuries and suffered from a fractured vertebra in his back. Medics cut the roof off his car in order to extract him without exacerbating his injuries. Almirola was released from the hospital on Sunday and referred to his doctor back home for treatment.
After convincing doctors to allow him to take part in the “Catwalk for a Cause”, Almirola was thrilled that he could attend the event and appeared in good spirits (although suffering from some pain). The event pairs NASCAR drivers with children that suffer from different forms of cancer and raises money for childhood and ovarian cancers. Each “Catwalk Hero” child is escorted down the runway by their matched NASCAR driver.
Speaking on the red carpet about why he chose to appear despite having a fractured vertebra, Almirola admirably revealed that he was not going to let anything stand in the way of the promise he’d already made to Devin.
“We had already met Devin a few weeks ago,” He said speaking to ESPN’s Bob Pockrass. “And I promised that I’d be here to walk with him. So I wasn’t going to let him down.”
“I can walk a little bit. … I’ve got a broken back, and one of my vertebra is crushed in half,” he continued. “Besides that, I’ll live, but it’s a lot easier to come here and deal with the pain, knowing what all of these kids are going through, being able to put up with a few hours of discomfort to support them.”
Together, Almirola, Devin, and his wife Janice all had an amazing time at the event and even performed Devin’s favorite quarterback’s (Cam Newton) signature “superman” pose at the end of their catwalk run!
Watch the videos below of the three walking the runway and Almirola’s full interview.