Steeplechase ready to ride May 11 for Children’s HospitalApr. 18, 2019, 9:28 AM
by Christina Echegaray
Jack Fancey, an 11-year-old patient at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, is passionate about two things: horses and raising awareness about Type 1 diabetes.
Jack will get to combine those two passions at the Iroquois Steeplechase, one of America’s premier horse racing events. He will serve as the child ambassador for the 78th annual running of the horses set for Saturday, May 11.
He will represent Children’s Hospital along with Jennifer Najjar, MD, associate professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, who specializes in pediatric and adolescent endocrinology and diabetes.
The Iroquois Steeplechase, considered Nashville’s rite of spring, draws more than 25,000 spectators who come out to support the event, which benefits Children’s Hospital.
Since being designated the official charity of the Iroquois Steeplechase in 1981, Children’s Hospital has received nearly $10 million from event proceeds.
Jack knows firsthand about Children’s Hospital, where he was diagnosed two years ago with Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease.
“The nurses and doctors were so helpful and patient with our family as we learned more about Jack’s diagnosis and how we would could best help him,” said his mother, Jenni Fancey.
“They walked us step-by-step through everything, and we talked daily on the phone for the first several days as they helped us adjust insulin levels and answered questions about what would become our new normal.”
In addition to support from Jack’s team at Children’s Hospital, including Kristin Meyertholen Favela, MD, Jennifer Kelley, MD, MSCE, and Dedrick Moulton, MD, Jack draws strength from his love of horses. He has shown his own horse, Mikey, in 4-H competitions and even included Mikey on his team for Walk for the Cure.
“When I was asked to be ambassador, I was super excited because I can teach more people about diabetes and see all of the horses,” said Jack, who hopes to become an equine veterinarian one day.
“Having diabetes has taught me that true strength comes from the heart, and that I’m stronger than I thought I was.”
Steeplechase also sets out to recognize Nashvillians who embody the event’s spirit of tradition and service by naming them honorary co-chairs. Najjar will serve as an honorary co-chair alongside Sara Jo and Don Gill. Sara Jo’s grandfather was the first chair of the Steeplechase race committee, while her father was the second.
“I am thrilled to be this year’s honorary co-chair of the Iroquois Steeplechase,” said Najjar. “Supporting our hospital through this annual event is so incredibly important. It is a real privilege to stand alongside other co-chairs whose lifelong efforts embody great community service.”
Proceeds from this year’s Iroquois Steeplechase will go to support A Campaign Against Childhood Cancer at Children’s Hospital. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the Steeplechase website: www.iroquoissteeplechase.org.