Mayo Clinic doctors performing ‘God Bless America’ for Indy 500 special

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Sunday’s “Back Home Again” special on NBC will feature a “God Bless America” tribute performed by two Mayo Clinic doctors to raise awareness for COVID-19 support.

The rendition by Dr. Elvis Francois (vocals) and Dr. William Robinson (piano) will help support The Fight Is In Us,” which encourages those who recovered from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) to donate potentially life-saving plasma for research into treatments.

The duo has lifted the spirits of Mayo Clinic patients for many years with their performances.

Their rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” recently went viral on Instagram, and their “Music is Medicine” EP benefited the Center of Disaster Philanthropy COVID-19 Response Fund.

“Back Home Again,” which will feature host Mike Tirico and 2019 Indianapolis 500 winner Simon Pagenaud and runner-up Alexander Rossi recounting last year’s thrilling race, will air Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBC.

Here’s the release from Indianapolis Motor Speedway:

INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, May 20, 2020 – Viewers across the globe will be treated to a poignant and stirring rendition of “God Bless America” during Sunday’s “Indy 500 Special: Back Home Again” airing at 2 p.m. EDT on NBC. The performance by Mayo Clinic orthopedic surgery residents Dr. Elvis Francois and Dr. William Robinson will provide a fitting tribute to front-line workers and help support The Fight Is In Us, an important campaign to encourage survivors of COVID-19 to donate potentially life-saving plasma for research into COVID-19 treatments.

Dr. Francois and Dr. Robinson have performed for patients at Mayo Clinic for several years, delivering emotional support alongside medical treatment to those in need. They recently uploaded their version of John Lennon’s “Imagine” to Instagram, featuring Dr. Francois’ soaring vocals and Dr. Robinson on the piano, as a tribute to fellow professionals across all industries working tirelessly to combat COVID-19. The post struck a chord with social media users worldwide, quickly going viral. After being noticed by executives at Big Machine Label Group, the pair recorded a special EP, “Music is Medicine,” with proceeds going to the Center of Disaster Philanthropy COVID-19 Response Fund.

“We’re honored to be part of this special broadcast from racing’s most iconic venue,” Dr. Francois said. “Seeing so many of my colleagues and front-line workers across the country come together in the midst of such challenging times has been inspiring. This performance is dedicated to everyone who keeps showing up in the fight against COVID-19.

“Our performance is very much about hope,” Dr. Robinson said. “It’s important to remember that we’re all in this together and we’re all working tirelessly toward the same goal. Despite the current hardships, there is definitely reason for optimism, and we hope that our rendition of ‘God Bless America’ will reflect this mindset.”

The doctors’ appearance on Sunday’s broadcast will also help draw attention to a new campaign in the battle against COVID-19: The Fight Is In Us. Mayo Clinic is a founding member of this effort to set up a seamless and convenient experience for the donation of convalescent plasma from COVID-19 survivors. This plasma can be used to treat people today and create medicines to treat patients in the future. To learn more about this vital campaign generated by leading health and life sciences organizations, visit: www.thefightisinus.org starting Sunday, May 24.

For more than 100 years, the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race presented by Gainbridge has taken place over Memorial Day weekend. This year’s race was originally scheduled for Sunday, May 24, but was rescheduled to Sunday, Aug. 23, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This Sunday, viewers will be treated to a special broadcast on NBC that chronicles the 2019 race, featuring an epic duel between Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud and Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi. The program will be narrated by NBC’s Mike Tirico and will incorporate specially produced pre-race moments such as the performance by Dr. Francois and Dr. Robinson.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).