Iroquois Steeplechase’s support of Children’s Hospital rides highJun. 29, 2021, 9:41 AM
by Sarah Thornton
Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt patient Madeline Heard served as the virtual patient ambassador for the Iroquois Steeplechase on Saturday, June 26.
Since designating Children’s Hospital as its official charity in 1981, the Steeplechase has raised more than $10 million for the hospital, helping countless patients like Madeline.
Madeline first came to Children’s Hospital in December 2012 when she was 18 months old and experiencing seizures. After close monitoring by her care team, she was able to go home and has not experienced another seizure since.
Almost three years later, Madeline’s younger brother, William, was taken to Children’s Hospital after choking at lunch. William’s care team did all they could to save his life, but there was no sign of brain activity. With support from the Child Life specialists at Children’s Hospital, Madeline was able to visit her brother to say goodbye and create memories through art activities like painting a canvas with the family’s handprints.
“Children’s Hospital has a special place in our hearts,” said Madeline’s mother, Jamie. “It’s where we spent the darkest days of our lives saying goodbye to our son, but it is also where we were able to donate his organs to give life to two other people.”
Madeline’s family has returned several times to Children’s Hospital to show their appreciation and to honor William.
In December 2020 Madeline was admitted to Children’s Hospital again, this time for a kidney infection. She had recently tested positive for COVID-19, so she had to be transported by herself in an ambulance to the hospital for treatment.
Madeline is now fully recovered and loves to play softball, ride bikes around the neighborhood and travel with her family. She was thrilled to serve as the virtual patient ambassador for this year’s Iroquois Steeplechase, representing the 1,800 patients that Children’s Hospital cares for each day.
In addition to honoring a patient ambassador, each year the Iroquois Steeplechase recognizes an outstanding health care provider from Children’s Hospital as an honorary co-chair. This year’s co-chair honor was awarded to all Children’s Hospital health care workers for their dedicated efforts in keeping the community’s young people safe and healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.