Steeplechase Announces Child Ambassador

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photo by Michael Gomez

The Iroquois Steeplechase sponsored by Bank of America, benefiting Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt recently held the annual kick-off event and announced the honorary chair John (Jay) C. Wellons III, MD, MSPH, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery and Cal Turner Chair in Pediatric Neurosurgery at Monroe Carell.

Dr. Wellons is a Professor in the Departments of Neurological Surgery, Pediatrics, Plastic Surgery and Radiology and Radiological Sciences, and is also the Vice Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery. He founded SOCKS (Surgical Outcomes Center for Kids) in 2015 and served as the Medical Director until 2022. He also served as the VUMC Section of Surgical Sciences Vice Chair of Clinical Research from 2018-2022 and Department of Neurological Surgery Program Director for the Neurosurgery Residency Training Program from 2014-2018.

Also announced, is this year’s Child Ambassador from Monroe Carell is 10-year-old Rivers DeLisle. Rivers was born with a rare heart condition called tetralogy of Fallot that includes a combination of four congenital heart defects. He underwent his first open heart surgery at just one month old. Due to complications, he suffered cardiac arrest and was placed on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a form of life support for those with life-threatening illness or injury that affects the function of their heart or lungs.

The official Iroquois Steeplechase artwork was unveiled at the official kick-off event. Michael J. McBride was selected as this year’s artist and his painting he entitled SteepleChase Ghost Rider was unveiled depicting a black and white oil painting of an energized horse race with a horse and rider hovering above the track. At the unveiling, Iroquois Steeplechase President Marianne Byrd said, “We enjoyed meeting Michael last year and having him display and sell some of his original artwork at the race. We’re so proud of the piece he painted depicting the Iroquois Steeplechase for this year’s official poster.”

McBride earned his undergraduate degree in art from Tennessee State University and his graduate degree in painting from Illinois State University. He is currently an instructor of art at Tennessee State University and has been the lead artist on many community-based mural projects in Nashville. His body of work titled “Too Black Too Fast” is a traveling exhibition of art about African-American jockeys and trainers. His work is included in both private and public collections in the US and abroad. Posters of his work will be for sale at Steeplechase Central on race day or through the website www.iroquoissteeplechase.org.

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