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Local News

Drake surprises Downers Grove girl awaiting heart transplant at Chicago hospital

Rapper Drake spends time with Downers Grove resident Sofia Sanchez on Aug. 20 at Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago. Sofia, 11, made a video asking Drake to visit her for her birthday while he was in Chicago on his concert tour. Sofia is awaiting a heart transplant.
Rapper Drake spends time with Downers Grove resident Sofia Sanchez on Aug. 20 at Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago. Sofia, 11, made a video asking Drake to visit her for her birthday while he was in Chicago on his concert tour. Sofia is awaiting a heart transplant.

DOWNERS GROVE – The Kiki Challenge worked.

The video of 11-year-old Downers Grove resident Sofia Sanchez performing the popular dance moves to Drake’s hit song “In My Feelings” accompanied by a request that the rap star visit her in the hospital paid off Aug. 20

Drake, who was in town over the weekend for his concert at the United Center, shocked Sofia when he walked into her room at Lurie Children’s Hospital.

“You asked me to come, and I’m here,” Drake said after a stunned Sofia screamed, “Oh my God.”

Sofia’s 11th birthday was Aug. 18. She made the video last week after her cousin Joshua Virgen helped her learn the Kiki Challenge dance moves.

The dance typically is performed after someone exits the passenger side of a car. Sofia improvised and did the steps after getting out a wheelchair in the hospital hallway.

Sofia is awaiting a heart transplant. She recently had surgery to implant a pump designed to increase the amount of blood that flows through the body.

“Her jaw dropped," said Joshua Virgen’s mother, Jenine Virgen, a Downers Grove resident. “She was very happy. It was really, truly unexpected.”

Drake’s representatives contacted members of the Sanchez family shortly after Sofia made the video asking the rapper to visit her for her birthday.

Family members knew about the visit ahead of time, but it was a complete surprise for Sofia.

Sofia’s two brothers attended Drake’s Aug. 18 concert after the musician provided tickets to the show, but they couldn’t share the experience with their sister and ruin the surprise visit.

“It was an awesome surprise for her,” Jenine Virgen said. “We’re beyond grateful that he took the time.”

Drake spent about one hour visiting with Sofia talking about music and a host of other topics, she said. The rapper took photos with Sofia, and the duo exchanged autographs.

"It's the best birthday present I ever had," Sofia said in a video posted by the hospital.

At one point, Drake tried to FaceTime fellow Canadian singer Justin Bieber but was unsuccessful.

"Having this one special day where she doesn't have to be a sick patient and doesn't have to be a girl waiting for a heart, but a little girl who's a fan of a great artist, it's pretty special," Dr. Bradley Marino, a pediatric cardiologist at Lurie Children's Hospital, said in the video.

Virgen said the visit made Sofia feel special, which is important given all the obstacles she's faced since receiving her diagnosis several months ago.

"It lifted her spirits," she said. "I think she's still in shock. It's a dream come true."

A GoFundMe page set up to offset Sofia's medical costs has raised more than $44,000. Contributions can be made at gofundme.com/stay-strong-sofia.

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