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Iroquois Steeplechase ready to ride on May 12

May. 3, 2018, 10:21 AM

by Paige Turner

The Iroquois Steeplechase, Nashville’s iconic sporting event benefiting Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, has named its honorary co-chairs and child ambassador for the 2018 race set for Saturday, May 12.

The Iroquois Steeplechase has been Nashville’s rite of spring since 1941. Held the second Saturday of each May at Percy Warner Park, the annual event attracts more than 25,000 spectators and is Music City’s celebration of time-honored traditions, Tennessee hospitality and Southern fashions. The event also supports several philanthropic causes and has donated more than $10 million to Children’s Hospital since 1981.

Child ambassador Brooks Russell and his sisters, Finnley, left, and Riley, pose for a photo at the 2018 Iroquois Steeplechase Spring Luncheon with honorary co-chair Wallace “Skip” Neblett III, MD, and Beth Moore, director of Community Development at VUMC. (photo by Michael Gomez)

Wallace “Skip” Neblett III, MD, professor of Pediatric Surgery at Vanderbilt Health, was selected as this year’s honorary co-chair for his longtime service to the community.

He is joined by the Wallace and Rowan families, represented by Guy Wallace III and Kipp Rowan.

Now in his 38th year of practice at Children’s Hospital, Neblett has served in numerous leadership roles, including chair of the Children’s Operating Room Steering Committee, vice chair of the Section of Surgical Sciences and member of the Children’s Hospital Advisory Board.

“During my tenure with Vanderbilt, I have witnessed firsthand how meaningful the relationship is between Children’s Hospital and Iroquois Steeplechase,” Neblett said. “Our community is stronger as a result of this powerful partnership, and I am honored to serve as an honorary co-chair alongside Kipp and Guy for this year’s event.”

Each year, the Iroquois Steeplechase also names an inspiring young person to serve as the event’s child ambassador. Children’s Hospital patient Brooks Russell was named child ambassador for the 2018 race.

Russell, a 9-year-old third grader, has been a longtime cancer fighter and patient at Children’s Hospital. At age 4, he underwent a 10-hour surgery to remove a pilocytic astrocytoma, a brain tumor growing on his spinal cord.

He also has completed two years of chemotherapy, 30 sedated MRIs and five subsequent surgeries since his initial procedure. Brooks’ tumor is currently stable, and he enjoys playing baseball, basketball and flag football.

“Brooks walks into Children’s Hospital knowing his nurses so well,” said Kari Russell, his mother.

“He knows they will take excellent care of him, all while keeping his spirits lifted and even bringing him an Icee when he wakes up from his MRIs. We are so thankful for the compassionate, expert team at Children’s Hospital.”

The child ambassador program highlights the significant partnership between Children’s Hospital and Iroquois Steeplechase, and Brooks represents the strength and resiliency of children fighting difficult health diagnoses.

Both Neblett and Russell were honored at the 2018 Iroquois Steeplechase Spring Luncheon at Maggiano’s on April 12.

On race day, gates open at 8 a.m., and the first race begins at 1 p.m. There are several options for attendance, including box seating, tailgating, hospitality tents, general admission and a free family area featuring activities for children ages 12 and under.

For more information about the Iroquois Steeplechase, its 77th anniversary and its relationship with Children’s Hospital, go to

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