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Iroquois Steeplechase set for May 14, ambassador named

Apr. 13, 2022, 1:35 PM

by Christina Echegaray

Mattie Ann Harwell will serve as the child ambassador of the 81st annual Iroquois Steeplechase and will represent Children’s Hospital patients.

The Iroquois Steeplechase, one of America’s premier horse racing events, is getting ready for the annual ride set for Saturday, May 14. A time-honored tradition and long considered Nashville’s rite of spring, the Iroquois Steeplechase will once again benefit Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

The event also supports several philanthropic causes and has donated nearly $11 million to Children’s Hospital since 1981. Representatives from the Iroquois Steeplechase recently announced its child ambassador and honorary co-chair in preparation for the event. With dreams of one day becoming an Olympic horseback rider, 10-year-old Mattie Ann Harwell will serve as the child ambassador of the 81st annual Iroquois Steeplechase. She will represent Children’s Hospital patients from Middle Tennessee and beyond.

The child ambassador program highlights the significant partnership between Children’s Hospital and the Iroquois Steeplechase. Mattie Ann will represent Children’s Hospital along with Kathryn M. Edwards, MD, professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

In 2018, Mattie Ann was diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis, an immune system disease that causes stomach pain and difficulty swallowing. In 2021, she suffered two broken growth plates in her right ankle, followed by another break a few months later. She recovered after months of treatment and therapy. She also received care from her gastroenterologist for IBS-C.

“Whenever I have to go into the hospital, all of the nurses and doctors at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt make me feel safe,” said Mattie Ann. “If I am scared about a procedure, they make me smile and laugh. My doctors talk to me and help me understand what is going to happen. I trust them and know I’m going to be OK.”

Edwards, chosen for her dedication to the research and safety of vaccines, will serve as honorary co-chair in addition to the Currey Family. An internationally recognized expert in vaccinology, Edwards focuses on the evaluation of vaccines for the prevention of infectious diseases in adults and children. Recently, she has been monitoring the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines in children and the protective effects against multisystem inflammatory syndrome.

Edwards serves on multiple data safety and monitoring boards and has been a frequent adviser for the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on vaccine policy.

“It is a privilege to represent Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt as honorary co-chair of this year’s Iroquois Steeplechase,” said Edwards. “We are so grateful for this annual event and for its longstanding support of our hospital and the care we provide to children and families. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to serve with the Currey family as co-chair of this event and to support this wonderful tradition that has been and continues to be so impactful on our community.”

On race day, gates open at 8 a.m., and the first race begins at 1 p.m. There are several options for attendance. For more information about the Iroquois Steeplechase, its 81st anniversary and its relationship with Children’s Hospital, go to

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