CORNELIUS, N.C. — The family of a race car driver who died of colon cancer is helping people in need access colonoscopies.


What You Need To Know:

John Andretti, a former race car driver, died of colon cancer in 2020 

His family is raising awareness and helping people access colonoscopies through their CheckIt4Andretti Foundation

Eleven people uninsured or underinsured are receiving free colonoscopies thanks to their effort


John Andretti had his first colonoscopy in 2017 when he was 53. At that time, doctors diagnosed him with colon cancer.

“He was perfectly healthy. We were shocked,” said John’s wife, Nancy. 

John Andretti died three years later. 

“It’s lonely. He was a great guy. I think we all miss him,” Nancy Andretti said. 

Through their nonprofit, CheckIt4Andretti Foundation, Nancy Andretti and their three children, Amelia, Jarrett and Olivia, are raising awareness about the importance of early screenings. 

Currently, the American Cancer Society recommends them as early as 45. 

In addition, they worked together with the North Carolina Association of Free and Charitable Clinics to identify 11 patients who needed a colonoscopy but couldn’t afford it. 

They partnered with Dr. Vinay Patel at the Northeast Digestive Health Center in Concord to conduct the colonoscopies.

The family has ties to the Charlotte area because they moved here in 1995 for NASCAR. Nancy Andretti still lives here. 

“We are trying to help fill that void and get people the necessary screenings so what happened to us doesn’t happen to other families,” Jarrett Andretti said. 

Patel is glad to be part of this initiative. 

“You are always looking to help the community and try to make a difference … an opportunity to help a patient population that really needs help,” Patel said. 

In some situations, colonoscopies have allowed them to catch cancer early. 

He said early screening can save lives. 

“If you are looking for symptoms before you seek help, it may be too late to treat it or do something for it,” Patel said. 

Patel said people without insurance can pay up to $2,000 for colonoscopies in North Carolina. 

John Andretti was married to Nancy for 33 years. 

“My girls won’t have their dad to walk them down the aisle. He was a partner with Jarrett in the race team. I don’t have a life partner,” Nancy Andretti said. 

She said the efforts of their foundation is to continue raising the awareness John started when he was alive. 

“That’s the purpose, that’s the goal to save lives and to continue his legacy. Saving lives and giving back to the community,” she said. 

The family hopes to support more underinsured or uninsured people access colonoscopies. 

John Andretti also continued the racing tradition in his family. He was the nephew of Mario Andretti.

Now his son, Jarrett Andretti, is also continuing the family’s legacy as he continues his career as a race car driver.