NASHVILLE, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Iroquois Steeplechase, Nashville’s iconic sporting event benefiting Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, sponsored by Bank of America, named two inspiring young people as child ambassador and featured artist for this year’s race: Brooks Russell and Lesly Mendez.
Brooks Russell, this year’s child ambassador, is a 9-year-old third grader who has been a longtime cancer fighter and patient at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. At 4 years old, Russell underwent a 10-hour-long surgery to remove a pilocytic astrocytoma, a brain tumor growing on his spinal cord. He also has completed two years of chemotherapy, 30 sedated MRIs, and five subsequent surgeries since his initial procedure. While the child ambassador program highlights the significant partnership between Children’s Hospital and Iroquois Steeplechase, with more than $10 million donated to date, Russell represents the strength and resiliency of children fighting difficult health diagnoses.
“Brooks walks into Children’s Hospital knowing his nurses better than some family members,” said Kari Russell, his mother. “He knows they will take excellent care of him, all while keeping his spirits lifted and even bringing him an Icee when he wakes up from his MRIs. We are so thankful for the compassionate, expert team at Children’s Hospital.”
Russell’s tumor is currently stable, and he enjoys playing baseball, basketball, and flag football.
“Iroquois Steeplechase has many long-standing traditions within our community, but one of the most cherished ones is the meaningful relationship we have with Children’s Hospital,” said Dwight Hall, chairman of the Iroquois Steeplechase Race Committee. “And we are truly honored to have Brooks as this year’s child ambassador.”
Additionally, Mendez, an 18-year-old high school student, was selected as featured artist from among a field of young painters. She has been a lifelong drawer, but she only began painting with acrylics within the last two years; this also is the first competition she has ever entered. Her selected painting, “Azul,” depicts a woman, a young girl, and a horse, all wearing garments in shades of blue. As the featured artist, Mendez will exhibit her painting on race day in the Children’s Hospital tent in the family area.
“I get my inspiration from nature and the beauty of colors, which adds life to anything,” Mendez said. “For this painting, I chose to focus on the color blue being worn by the woman, young girl, and horse. I wanted to convey the relationship the two females have with one another and the horse that they grew up with and hold so dear to their hearts.”
Mendez is currently a senior at Antioch High School, and she plans to attend college and pursue a career in one of the STEM fields.
“So many talented artists submitted paintings for consideration, but Lesly’s captured our attention immediately,” Hall said. “Her painting embodies the essence of Iroquois Steeplechase, which is the deep connection we share with each other and with the majesty of the horses.”
For those wanting to learn more about the 77th Iroquois Steeplechase or to purchase tickets, visit http://www.iroquoissteeplechase.org.
About Iroquois Steeplechase
The Iroquois Steeplechase is an iconic sporting event that has been Nashville's rite of spring since 1941. Held the second Saturday of each May at Percy Warner Park, the annual event attracts more than 25,000 spectators and is Music City's celebration of time-honored traditions, Tennessee hospitality and Southern fashions. The event also supports several philanthropic causes and has donated more than $10 million to Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt since 1981. To learn more about Steeplechase, visit www.iroquoissteeplechase.org.
About Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, a freestanding 267-bed facility dedicated to serving only children, is nationally recognized as a leading provider of pediatric health care services. Experts treat and work to prevent all health issues ranging from common childhood conditions to serious, advanced diseases. Featuring Centers of Excellence for the treatment of diabetes and congenital heart disorders, Children’s Hospital also operates the region’s only level 1 pediatric trauma unit and a neonatal intensive care unit with the highest designated level of care. In addition, Children’s Hospital is a top-level teaching and research facility. As a nonprofit organization, the hospital cares for children of Tennessee and surrounding states regardless of their ability to pay. Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt is again named among the top pediatric health care hospitals in U.S. News & World Report magazine's annual Best Children's Hospitals rankings. Children’s Hospital has been ranked every year by U.S. News since the inception of the publication’s pediatric rankings, now in its tenth year.
Brand825 is a marketing and creative agency that is passionate about building strong brands. With an intense focus on brand development, marketing strategy and customer engagement, the agency partners with clients to help them understand their unique story and tell it in a way that engages and inspires. This includes a full scope of integrated services that includes brand messaging, creative design, digital advertising, multifaceted marketing campaigns and social media strategy. For more information on Brand825, visit www.brand825.com.