Posted on November 3, 2022

Timmy Fanco Defies the Odds Following Car Crash

To say the Fancos are fighters is an understatement.

On June 10, 2022, Liz Fanco of Alto, MI, received a phone call. Her children, Anna and Timmy, had just been in a broadside collision.

Anna, 17, was driving and suffered a collapsed lung, broken leg and several broken ribs. Her younger brother, Timmy, 11 at the time, wasn’t expected to survive. The damage to the passenger side of the car was so extensive, EMS had pronounced him dead upon arrival. Eventually, they found a pulse. And after an hour of working to get him out of the car, they airlifted Timmy to Spectrum Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. There, he spent 11 days in a coma.


A Long Road Ahead

Timmy suffered a traumatic brain injury and was transferred to Mary Free Bed for inpatient rehabilitation. Anna also transferred to Mary Free Bed, but Timmy’s level of recovery was impossible to predict.

“At Helen DeVos, the neurology notes were classifying Timmy as having a grade three diffuse axonal brain injury,” said Dr. Marianne Mousigian, pediatric physiatrist at Mary Free Bed. “It can be very serious, and it’s hard to determine where a patient will end up cognitively after the injury.”


Getting Back on Track

Timmy spent four weeks relentlessly recovering with physical, occupational and speech therapy. His goal was to get back to running races with his family – something they had all loved to do together before the accident. In July, he did just that and joined his family on the Metro Way 5K.


Timmy Fanco Traumatic Brain Injury Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation
Timmy and Liz Fanco cross the finish line of the Metro Way 5K six weeks after a car crash nearly took Timmy’s life.


But being part of the 5K was just the beginning.  Throughout his recovery, Timmy’s had his sights set on running 13.1 miles in the Grand Rapids Half Marathon this fall.


Motivation Runs in the Family

It’s easy to see where Timmy draws his strength and motivation from. Just one year prior, his mom was turning a corner of her own. After struggling to meet her running and health goals, Liz found success at Mary Free Bed and lost 115 pounds. She went on to achieve her goal of running the New York City Marathon. Read Liz’s inspiring story on

“From the moment he could talk again, he said – I’m gonna run that race this October,” Liz said.


Bursting with Stride

Six weeks after the crash, Timmy graduated from Mary Free Bed using a walker. He brought his fighting spirit to outpatient therapy. His mobility increased quickly with intensive, twice-weekly visits as part of the Mary Free Bed Day Rehab Program.

In October, just four months after the crash that nearly took his life, Timmy achieved the goal he set out to do. He completed the Grand Rapids Half Marathon – crossing the finish line on his own, alongside his parents.


In the video, hear more from Liz and Timmy’s doctors and therapists, and watch Timmy cross the finish line. 




Timmy’s story was also recently covered by our friends at WOOD TV8: Miracle marathoner: Boy battles back to run 4 months after serious crash