April 10, 2009

Steeplechase Ambassador ready to ride

Featured Image

Jamie DuBois, this year's Steeplechase Ambassador, with her horse, Sarah Jo, at Winners Circle Farm in Franklin. (photo by Dana Johnson)

Steeplechase Ambassador ready to ride

Riding atop her horse with the wind blowing in her face is the freest 14-year-old Jamie DuBois has felt since being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) three years ago.

DuBois has been selected as the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt's 2009 Child Ambassador for the 68th Iroquois Steeplechase, which takes place May 9 at Percy Warner Park.

“I'm really happy to be the Steeplechase Ambassador because I love horses and the Children's Hospital is such a great place,” DuBois said. “Everyone is nice and friendly and it's such a great facility to take care of kids. If you have to be sick — it’s one of the best places to be.”

DuBois and Sarah Jo work out at Winners Circle Farm. (photo by Dana Johnson)

DuBois and Sarah Jo work out at Winners Circle Farm. (photo by Dana Johnson)

ALL is a cancer of the white blood cells, the cells in the body that normally fight infections.

DuBois was treated by Jim Whitlock, M.D., director of the Division of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology. After two years of chemotherapy, DuBois has been off the treatments for one year.

“I saw a lot of doctors,” DuBois said. “It was kind of a blur.”

She has been riding horses since she was 8, but was unable to ride much following her diagnosis in 2005. Earlier this year, she started riding her horse, Sarah Jo, regularly again and will be participating in a riding competition this month.

Due to avascular necrosis in her ankles, a side effect of chemotherapy that causes arthritis-like symptoms, DuBois is currently not able to participate in other sports.

“That's what's great about riding; it doesn't affect [the necrosis],” she said.

DuBois, who will turn 15 on May 31, is an eighth grader at Nashville’s Harpeth Hall. In addition to riding her horse and competing in local competitions, she is an editor for her school's newspaper, serves on the staff of the school's literary magazine and participates in forensics as well as the school's Model United Nations, serving as the Ambassador to Bolivia.

DuBois and her family recently returned from a Make-A-Wish trip to Alaska, where she saw the Aurora Borealis and got to mush with a dogsled team.

Since being designated in 1981 as the official charity of the Iroquois Steeplechase, Children's Hospital has received more than $9 million from the event proceeds.

To find out more information about this year's Steeplechase and to purchase tickets, visit www.iroquoissteeplechase.org.