Derby Divas Goes Mobile

Wanda Anderson, Derby Divas committee member and cancer survivor, knows first-hand the importance of the new Norton Healthcare Mobile Prevention Center in helping women with early detection of breast cancer. Anderson’s cancer was detected after a screening on the first mobile center. Photo courtesy of Norton Healthcare.

Nonprofit helps fund Norton Healthcare mobile breast cancer prevention unit


By Elizabeth Scinta


What began as an idea 14 years ago has flourished into Derby Divas, a nonprofit organization raising money for the Norton Healthcare Breast Health Program funding mammograms for underserved communities. Derby Divas is made up of a committee of fewer than 20 women; however, anyone who attends the annual event is considered a Derby Diva, or a Man Diva, according to Lynnie Meyer, Ed.D., R.N., CFRE, senior vice president and chief development officer at Norton Healthcare. “It’s led by a committee of 10 to 15 women who dedicate year-round volunteerism and support to making the event what it is,” said Meyer.

Every year, Derby Divas hosts its annual event in partnership with Rodes For Him & For Her to raise funds for the Norton Healthcare Breast Health Program and honor those who have battled breast cancer. The annual Derby Divas event celebrates survivors and spreads awareness of the importance of early screening in women. “It’s encouraging survivors, it’s celebrating survivors and also encouraging people to come forward and be screened. When we have a Derby Diva who’s willing to tell her story, it inspires other women to come forward and be screened,” Meyer said.

Tonya Abeln, left, director of community relations at Churchill Downs announces that the Breast Health Program at Norton Cancer Institute is once again the beneficiary of this year’s Oaks Day. Churchill Downs committed $50,000 alongside the Derby Divas to ensure the women of this community have access to vital screenings and state-of-the-art services at Norton Cancer Institute. Right: Erica Coghill, spokesperson for Norton Healthcare. Photo by Jamie Rhodes/Norton Healthcare.

This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Derby Divas couldn’t have their annual event in person, so they moved it to a virtual event. Although it came with a few hiccups, over a thousand people tuned into the event, according to Meyer. Save the date for their next annual event on April 15, 2021, as they honor breast cancer survivor, Kimberley Marek. Over the 14-year relationship between Derby Divas and Norton Healthcare, they have raised over $1.7 million to support mammography. Over time, the funds have gone to funding numerous projects within Norton Healthcare connected back to breast cancer. In 2015, the Derby Divas Breast Health Center at Norton Women’s and Children’s Hospital was dedicated. They’ve also helped fund a one-stop breast center where women can receive a mammogram, ultrasound and stereotactic biopsy in one day, according to Meyer.

The funds raised from recent Derby Divas annual events went towards funding a second Norton Healthcare Mobile Prevention Center. “The Derby Divas had so many of the same hopes, wishes and desires as it related to their mission and what they wanted to do. Anytime you bring passion, as the Derby Divas brought to this, into a wonderful need that the community has, it can only have really good outcomes,” said Russell F. Cox, president and CEO of Norton Healthcare.

Susan Vogt, Derby Divas co-chair and owner of Rodes For Him and For Her, conducts a raffle at the event. Photo by Jamie Rhodes/Norton Healthcare.

The first mobile prevention center was funded in 2007, but recently Norton Healthcare saw that there was enough demand for a second one, according to Cox. “We want to look at this whole issue of mobile prevention as being more than just a mammogram. In so many cases, what we want to do is build relationships out of this mobile prevention unit that facilitate a more holistic, well-rounded approach to access to primary care and taking care of yourself and not just when you come in to get a mammogram,” said Cox.

Norton Healthcare is hoping that making the mobile prevention units accessible to communities who might not have previously had accessibility to hospitals will help catch breast cancers earlier in women. “We recognize that if we were early on in the detection and screening aspect of this that outcomes really improve for people,” said Cox. The ribbon on the newest mobile prevention center was cut in August with help from numerous community partners.

In 2017, Derby Divas formed a partnership with Churchill Downs, who also played a large role in fundraising for the new mobile prevention unit. Over the past two years, Norton Healthcare has received the proceeds from the sale of the Lilly cocktail on Oaks Day with all proceeds allocated to funding the mobile prevention unit, according to Meyer. “The newest one that the Derby Divas are involved in is really an unbelievable sight when you look at the size of it, the capabilities and capacity of it,” said Cox. This mobile prevention unit can perform tomosynthesis, a 3D mammogram, that can detect smaller breast cancers earlier. The funds raised through Derby Divas are used to primarily fund mammograms for families that otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to get one, according to Meyer.  “It’s one thing for us to invest in and raise dollars for a 1.3 million dollar capital project, but to be able to sustain that project as we have the first one since 2007, that’s 13 years. That’s a tremendous strain on the operating budget and the cost to provide screenings, so I think that’s where the Derby Divas dollars really come in and make the biggest difference,” said Meyer.

Lynnie Meyer. Photo by Kathryn Harrington.

The mobile prevention units go all over the Louisville area and can be found parked at numerous locations. Through Norton Healthcare’s many resources, they have contacts with local churches and businesses that allow them to park the mobile prevention unit there during a time they think it would be the most helpful, according to Cox. “We don’t have any predetermined we’re there for a week or we’re there for a day. We work with the organizations to determine how many people they think will want to be screened, will want to have this service and when the best time is from an access standpoint. Do we need to be there after hours or before hours for people on their way to work? We try to be very accommodating to the best of our abilities,” Cox said. Derby Divas will be celebrating its 15th year as an organization in 2021. They hope they will be able to celebrate their hard work and the survivors in a remarkable way.


To learn more about the mobile prevention units and see when and where they will be parked, visit nortonhealthcare.com/services-and-conditions/prevention-and-wellness/mobile-prevention-center.