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Time-Honored Events Put the ‘Fun’ in Fundraising

by Jun. 18, 2014, 2:04 PM

Volunteer Monk Baird hangs posters advertising Christmas Village in 1964.

Four of the longest-running fundraisers for Vanderbilt University Medical Center are also local Nashville traditions. Iroquois Steeplechase, the Music City Tennis Invitational (MCTI), Eve of Janus and Christmas Village collectively have contributed more than $20 million to VUMC.

“The impact of the thousands who organize and attend these events is staggering,” says Dr. Jeffrey R. Balser, MD’90, PhD’90, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine. “They are truly motivated by a desire to make a difference.”

These signature events represent the commitment of longtime partners dedicated to raising funds and awareness for VUMC programs, and a strong sense of community often develops among the groups organizing these events year after year.

Patsy Bradley, co-chair of MCTI, has been involved with the event since its inception in 1973. “Many of our participants have made lifelong friendships,” she says.

“We are all very emotionally invested, and every one of us has a special place in her heart for the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center,” says Alison Wingo, board chair for Christmas Village, which originated in 1961.

The groups and their volunteers support efforts across a wide spectrum of needs at Vanderbilt:

• MCTI, which is the longest-running music-related tennis charity tournament in the country, benefits the Center for Child Development at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

• Iroquois Steeplechase, which first ran in 1941 and typically attracts crowds of more than 25,000 each year, supports Children’s Hospital and critical research into pressing childhood diseases.

• Eve of Janus, now in its 44th year, provides support for the Tri Delta Pediatric Hematology Oncology Clinic and the Endowed Pediatric Cancer Research Fund.

• Christmas Village supports programs at the Bill Wilkerson Center and the Vanderbilt Pi Beta Phi Rehabilitation Institute.

“Vanderbilt is something everyone can get behind,” says Iroquois Steeplechase Executive Director Libby Cheek. “Often their own family has needed the hospital or they know someone who has been there.”

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