This weekend brings an opportunity for residents to exercise, have fun, and help a Paducah family directly affected by the November tornadoes that ripped through Kentucky and Illinois.
Dan Underwood, a longtime engineer at USEC and chairman of the McCracken County Republican Party, was in a two-vehicle head-on collision about 3 p.m. Nov. 18 on Cairo Road when a vehicle drifted into his lane because of the strong winds and water pooling on the roadway, according to a McCracken County Sheriff's Department news release.
He was taken to Baptist Health Paducah, where he remained in critical condition. He was then moved to a long-term care facility and then to Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital in Nashville, Tenn., to begin treatments this week. He sustained major brain trauma as well as leg fractures in the wreck but is making slow progress, according to longtime friend and co-worker Rhonda Crice.
"When tragedy strikes, everyone wants to pitch in and help," she said. "We are thankful that everyday he is improving and getting back to our Dan."
"Dancing for Dan" began as an idea from Crice and other USEC co-workers who were looking for a way to help reduce the financial burden on Underwood's family.
"I've known Dan for 20-plus years and he is a good-hearted man. We just want to do whatever we can to make life a little easier," she said.
The Zumbathon fundraiser is set from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday in the Paducah Middle School gymnasium on Lone Oak Road. Along with Zumba instruction, which incorporates multiple dance styles and aerobic elements, from teachers across the region, there will be a silent auction of artwork done by USEC employees, door prizes and a drawing, according to organizer and co-worker Ayrie Crump.
"It's a great way for the community to get active with Zumba and to help a family in need," she said. "It's really a win-win situation."
Funds raised from tickets, auction items and T-shirt sales will go toward travel, housing and other expenses not covered by insurance for the family, his wife Tana Underwood and son Zachary Underwood, who are currently staying in Nashville. Organizers hope to raise about $1,000.
"It's really a miracle that Dan is alive and he was so active in the community, we just want to help his family," Crump said.
She said they are expecting about 100 people with more that 75 confirmed attending through the event's Facebook page. The program is sanctioned by Zumba Fitness and open to all dance skill levels.
Tickets are $5 and can be purchased Saturday with doors opening at 9:30 a.m. Participants are not required to dance but those who plan to exercise should wear comfortable clothing, Crump said. For more information, visit the "Dancing for Dan" Facebook page.
Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.
Want to go?
What: Dancing for Dan fundraiser
When: 10 a.m. to noon Saturday
Where: Paducah Middle School gymnasium
Cost: $5 per ticket