Country singer Mark Collie will establish the first diabetes research chair at Vanderbilt University Medical Center with money raised at The 7th Annual Mark Collie Celebrity Race for Diabetes Cure.
Set for Oct. 11 at the Nashville Speedway, the race will feature celebrity drivers from the entertainment and sports worlds competing in Legends Cars, 5/8-scale vehicles with motorcycle engines. Organizers expect proceeds to reach their fund-raising goal of $1.5 million to endow the Vanderbilt research chair. Completion of funding will allow the Vanderbilt Diabetes Center to provide researchers with the laboratory, staff and resources necessary to continue their research.
“About three years ago we set a goal to raise the funds to start the first research chair in diabetes at Vanderbilt,” Collie said Tuesday (Aug. 22) at a news conference. “This year we’ll accomplish that goal. It’s going to be a celebration year, not just for all that we have accomplished, but also for what we’re going to collect this year, which will keep diabetes research moving toward the future.”
The Mark Collie Foundation also has made research donations to the American Diabetes Association and the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. In its six-year history, the Legends race has raised over $2.5 million.
Collie spoke about his charity event at the Nashville Speedway prior to a celebrity driving school to prepare drivers for this year’s race. Joining Collie for the trial run were country singers Kix Brooks (of Brooks & Dunn), Julie Reeves, Deana Carter, Darryl Worley, Coley McCabe, Lisa Stewart, baseball great Rick Sutcliffe and actor-musician Mickey Jones, who plays Pete Bilker on Home Improvement and played drums behind Kenny Rogers in the First Edition.
On Oct. 11, dozens of other celebrities will compete in Legends cars on the speedway’s 3/8-mile oval. Country Music Hall of Fame member Loretta Lynn, who lost her husband “Mooney” to complications from diabetes, will return as the event’s honorary spokesperson.
Collie, best known for the early ’90s hits “Even the Man in the Moon Is Crying,” “Born to Love You” and “Hard Lovin’ Woman,” has been an insulin-dependent diabetic since age 17.
Eli Lilly and Company, an Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical corporation specializing in diabetes treatment, returns this year as presenting sponsor for the race.
Special guests for the event will be announced in the coming weeks. As in years past, Collie and his guests will stage a concert and celebrity auction Oct. 10, the night before the race, at the Wildhorse Saloon in downtown Nashville.
Race gates open at 4 p.m., pre-race kids’ activities begin at 5 p.m., followed by the race at 6 p.m. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.