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GoldCare Kentucky Derby trip
Joey Evans (left) and Marilyn Wycoff became fast friends on their trip to the Kentucky Derby with GoldCare 55+.

Mon, May 20, 2019 at 09:10 PM

Horses, hats and hugs - these ladies made the most of their Kentucky Derby trip

GoldCare trip bonds ladies who share memorable experiences during visit to Bluegrass State.

Travelers often become fast friends after agreeing to room with a stranger in order to save money on a hotel room. That was exactly what happened to two ladies who signed up with GoldCare 55+ for a recent trip to the Kentucky Derby.  

Mary Jo “Joey” Evans of Guntersville and Marilyn Wycoff of Grant had never met before the morning they boarded a motorcoach for Kentucky. Their side-by-side seats allowed them to get to know each other along the way. It turned out to be a great experience with lasting memories for both. Wycoff credited Marshall Medical’s GoldCare 55+ travel program and fate for putting her with someone so compatible.

“This has given me such opportunities I never would have had, and allowed me to meet people I would have never met,” said Wycoff, a widow who calls herself a hermit, lives alone and says she stays home all the time.

During the long bus ride, the two planned out their activities to enjoy to the fullest everything the trip would bring. When they visited a distillery on the first night of the trip, they not only tasted the samples offered but also hit the dance floor to kick up their heels with a group grooving to music played by a band. Evans, whose husband stayed home, said it seems no one wants to dance any more. 

“You have to find the perfect nutty person,” she said, patting Wycoff’s shoulder. Wycoff said it was the first time she had danced in 30 years.

Two pairs became a foursome

The pair also became friends with two ladies on the trip who were travelling and rooming alone, Sheila Mountain of Gadsden and Brenda Hall of Grove Oak.

“It was a God thing,” Evans said. “We’re four women travelling alone but this allowed us to be a foursome. We all kind of blended together and it worked out really well.”

The foursome teamed up to apply what they learned from betting lessons provided on the trip to their wagers at Churchill Downs. Mountain explained to her new friends what it meant to bet “across the board.” It paid off with each one leaving the Derby a winner. The biggest haul was $30 won by Wycoff; the others went home $16 richer. 
The highlight of the trip, however, happened in the grandstand as Evans and Wycoff sought shelter behind a column to block the rainy, blustery weather that dogged the race. Wycoff had purchased a hot dog and wanted to get out of the wind to eat it. While they stood there, a man approached them – out of the 150,000 Derby attendees – to ask if they would like to have a rose from “the winning garland.” He was holding three red roses, and gave them each one, which they protected like fine crystal all the way home. Their vantage point that day also allowed them to see the winning horse being walked out, which few were lucky enough to glimpse in person. The experience made the ladies feel very special and thankful for being in the right place at the right time. 

Evans speculated that the gentleman chose them to give a rose because of their age. 

“He picked us out,” she said. 

The two talked on the bus ride home about how they planned to dry and preserve the roses to display in a shadow box along with their other Derby memorabilia. The trip was Evans’ second time to travel with GoldCare. Her first was a Mystery Trip in April. Wycoff, who has taken several GoldCare trips, was also on that trip but the two didn’t remember seeing each other then. 

Hall doesn’t travel often because she enjoys being home where her grandchildren visit often. 

“I enjoyed all of it,” she said. “I met so many people from so many states.”

Mountain, who is single, said she enjoys traveling with GoldCare and other groups. 

“Everybody includes everybody else – whether they are married or not,” she said. “You never have to sit alone. Spending the day with a lot of people is great. I have privacy at night. I live alone so I’m used to that. That’s the best thing about it.”

Her first GoldCare trip was to Alaska several years ago. 

“That was my favorite trip of all time,” she said with a big smile. 


GoldCare 55+ is a program sponsored by Marshall Medical to encourage a healthy lifestyle for seniors. Members are eligible for safe, high-end group travel with people of the same age. The program is not a fundraiser and does not try to make a profit. 

You can find an application form at the GoldCare page here, or sign up at the GoldCare 55+ office at 2320 Homer Clayton Drive. For more information, call 256.571.8025 or email