SOMC’s stars ready to shine for Red Cross

Although the event won’t take place until March, voting has already begun for “Dancing with Our Stars,” a local dance competition that serves as a fundraiser for the Ohio River Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross.

The event features two ‘stars’ from Southern Ohio Medical Center: Wendi Waugh and Dr. Nathan Bennington.

Neither Waugh nor Dr. Bennington benefit from formal dance training, and both have admitted to being a bit surprised by how steep the learning curve can be. However, they’re both excited to be developing new skills and using them to help an organization like the Red Cross.

“Keeping in mind that it’s for charity makes it easier,” Waugh said. “I’m all about whatever I can do for the community.”

Waugh is the director of the SOMC Cancer Services/Community Health and Wellness. In that capacity, she works to provide screenings and wellness opportunities for the community. That includes events such as 2012’s ‘Tri for Your LIFE’ triathlon, which attracted more than 100 competitors with some coming from as far away as Florida and Minnesota.

Waugh’s primary goal may be to raise funds for the Red Cross, but there is one other goal she’d like to accomplish – she’d like to win.

“I feel like I’m putting a lot of hours into this, and I hope that in the end my partner and I look like professional dancers,” Waugh said. “In fact, I want to do so well that they ask me to dance as a professional next year.”

In order to do that, she has spent many hours with her dance partner, Dan Gray, learning the cha-cha. Dr. Bennington has also invested considerable time into learning to dance.

“I have never taken dance lessons or done anything like that. Trying to learn dancing from somebody else is definitely foreign to me,” Dr. Bennington said.

His partner, Debbie Kielmar, is the Group Fitness Supervisor at the SOMC LIFE Center and has put together their routine for the competition. Dr. Bennington is careful, however, not to reveal too much about their plans.

“All I’m going to say is that ours is going to be the most unique,” Dr. Bennington said. “It won’t be ballroom dancing, let’s put it that way.”

Like Waugh, Dr. Bennington has a history of community service and involvement that motivates him to help raise funds for the Red Cross. In fact, Dr. Bennington was a recipient of the Red Cross’ Humanitarian Award in 2012. He received the honor along with Dr. George Pettit after the duo traveled to the Philippines for a medical mission that included removing a 33-pound tumor.

Votes can already be cast online for both Wendi Waugh and Dr. Nathan Bennington, but each vote requires a $1 donation to the Red Cross.

To support Wendi Waugh, visit http://ow.ly/hvZBw.

To support Dr. Nathan Bennington, visit http://ow.ly/hvZE0.

Additional information can be found by liking SOMC on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SouthernOhioMedicalCenter.