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Derby Festival honors 2020 Community Champions

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Kentucky Derby Festival and Amazon are sharing inspiring stories from six individuals who’ve been named 2020 Community Champions. After a four-week nomination process, the winners were selected from more than 100 nominees.

“So many inspiring stories of Community Champions have been shared with us. Seeing all the good being done is uplifting in a year like what we’ve all been through,” said Matt Gibson, Kentucky Derby Festival president and CEO. “This community has supported the Derby Festival for so many years, celebrating these champions is just a small way we can say ‘Thank you.’”

The 2020 Community Champions are:

Cecil and Vanessa Goodwin created the Noel Scholarship Fund 17 years ago in honor of their son.

Cecil and Vanessa Goodwin of Mt. Washington, Ky. – The Goodwins created the Noel Scholarship Fund 17 years ago in memory of their son who lost his battle with cancer. Through the scholarship fund, they’ve turned their own tragedy into blessings for others. They’ve helped the most in-need population, including students in their community and within Jefferson County Public Schools. Their work has continued throughout 2020.

Jeremy Harrell of Louisville, Ky. – Jeremy Harrell, president of Veteran’s Club, works to provide services including food for homeless veterans, as well as activities to help engage local veterans within the community throughout Kentuckiana. Harrell is currently leading a project called Camp Restoration, which repurposes shipping containers so they can be used as housing for homeless veterans and their families.

Chaim Litvin of Louisville, Ky. – Chaim Litvin leads a volunteer organization at Project Friendship, a nonprofit that provides clothing and other items to those in need. Under his leadership, the organization has been able to donate more than $1 million in clothing to those in the community who need it most. Litvin also worked to open “Friendship Corner” inside Norton Children’s Oncology Department to help provide additional services and help meet the needs of their patients.

Alli Overfield of Louisville, Ky. – Alli Overfield, a pediatric nurse at Norton Children’s Hospital on the oncology floor, works to care for both her pediatric patients and their families. Overfield helped spearhead a drive to collect toiletry items for family members who often spend nights at the hospital with their children. After receiving an overwhelming response for donations, she turned her home into a donation center where she collects basic items for parents including toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, shaving kits and other necessities.

Brooklyn Roller of Cox’s Creek, Ky. – Brooklyn Roller began volunteering with the nonprofit Ardi’s Bears when she was 7 years old. The organization provides teddy bears for children in hospitals. Roller, now 18 years old, has collected over 3,500 bears that have been given to kids throughout Kentuckiana. She’s also started her own teddy bear project and partners with the Dream Factory to send a smile through a teddy bear to children around the country.

Rogerio Torres of Lexington, Ky. – Rogerio Torres came to Kentucky from Brazil to start a family and a ministry devoted to helping the immigrant and refugee population in our community. Working in Louisville through the Immigrant Compassion Center, he offers worship services without language barriers to help provide sojourners spiritual comfort. With degrees in divinity and law, Torres also provides free counsel to those in the community who seek naturalization. He offers his time and support to those families in need as they try to make their home in a new country.

Each 2020 Community Champion receives a $500 Amazon Gift Card, as well as a framed 2020 Official Kentucky Derby Festival Poster and other Festival goodies.

Members of the Derby Festival staff, outfitted in their signature pink Festival jackets, are delivering the prizes to the winners to ensure they receive their gifts by Thanksgiving. Special signs celebrating the Community Champions are also being put in each winner’s yard.