Spotlight on Derby Divas

Steve Buttleman. (Photo By Bill Wine)

Steve Buttleman. (Photo By Bill Wine)

April 20 will see one of the season’s most important charitable events take place at Rodes For Him For Her. Derby Divas is a special night of shopping, fun and friendship to benefit Norton Cancer Institute Breast Health Program, and proceeds from the event help fund mammograms and other breast health services for underserved women in the community through the Norton Cancer Institute Breast Health Program, which is funded by the Norton Healthcare Foundation. To get more details on this year’s Derby Divas, we chatted with Co-Founder Susan Vogt.

What is the origin of Derby Divas?

Derby Diva’s began with a phone call from my friend Fran Thorton and a board game created by Sabrina Hackett. Sabrina created a horse race dice game to help celebrate her friend’s journey with breast cancer. Fran and I, with a small group of dedicated women, turned it into a game night at Rodes with a focus on honoring a survivor. We wanted to see if a group of girlfriends could come around the table to play a game and make a difference for our community. We no longer play the game, but what began among that circle of friends has become a special night to celebrate women. What you can expect is a night of fashion, friendship, food and fun while listening to a heartwarming, honest story from a breast cancer survivor. From our humble start of hosting fewer than 100, last year we had more than 400 attendees.

Who is this year’s honoree?

This year’s honoree has a very special place in my heart. Betsy Barefoot is a young and courageous woman I have watched grow up as she was in the same class with my son in the fifth grade. After graduating from high school in 2009, she had just celebrated her 26th birthday when she found herself battling breast cancer. Her story uniquely shows how this cancer that we’re tackling through prevention and screening does not discriminate race, age or even gender. As a result, we have targeted a much younger audience by creating a Junior Derby Diva board.

What is a Man-Diva?

Originally they were only the husbands of the women on the committee who were cajoled into donning pink shirts to serve the Derby Diva guests. However, it is now a coveted position for any man who contributes with a sponsorship. Amongst the Man-Divas, our youngest is only 22. As both the women and men listen to the stories of the survivors, their understanding grows from just another women’s fundraiser to understanding first-hand the impact the program makes on this community.

What kind of change has Derby Divas affected?

In the past decade, Derby Divas has raised over $1.2 million with some amazing sponsors in this city. Last year alone, thanks in part to this effort, over 1,700 mammograms were provided via the Norton Cancer Institute Mobile Prevention Center. This event is important because it directly invests in better breast health for women in our community.

Anything else big on the horizon?

The exciting news is that Derby Divas is joining the ninth annual Pink Out and Survivors Parade presented by Kroger at the 143rd Longines Kentucky Oaks on May 5, 2017, at Churchill Downs. The Breast Health Program at Norton Cancer Institute has become a charitable partner with Churchill Downs Racetrack to raise funds and awareness of breast and ovarian health. Pink Out is a central part of the new partnership between Churchill Downs and Norton Cancer Institute, which has welcomed a decade of support from the volunteer-driven Derby Divas group.

Is it too late to get tickets?

It is not too late to be a part of this amazing evening, full of fun and friendship. If you have not received an invitation, please go to nortonhealthcare.com/derbydivas. When you go online, look at the Diva’s Bag; it’s a cute pom pom summer tote filled with fabulous beauty gifts. And take a peek at the raffle for a weekend stay at Blackberry Farm. VT

Derby Divas

April 20

Rodes For Him For Her

$50 pre-admission, $60 at the door, $35 young professional (30 and under)

nortonhealthcare.com/derbydivas