Governor Andy Beshear and Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman were joined Sunday by UK Men's Basketball Coach John Calipari, former UK basketball player Jack "Goose" Givens, and other special guests to distribute shoes to Kentuckians displaced by the tornadoes in Western Kentucky.
.@UKMitchBarnhart, @goosegivens, @DmillerKY, @MannyOhonme from @Samaritans_Feet and I joined @GovAndyBeshear and @LtGovColeman in Western Kentucky this morning to help distribute shoes to those who were affected by the tornadoes last weekend. pic.twitter.com/mRRO84Cjvo— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) December 19, 2021
"My commitment to the folks of Western Kentucky is we won't be here for just this week or this month," Governor Beshear said. "We will be here every single day for however long it takes to rebuild every building and every life, to get everyone as close as we can to where they need to be."
Samaritan's Feet, a North Carolina-based non-profit organization, donated thousands of shoes to Kentuckians impacted by the tornadoes. The shoes were delivered to people who are being housed at Lake Barkley State Resort Park in Cadiz and Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park in Dawson Springs.
"They personally were handing out shoes and helping people get shoes," said Sherry Barnes, an employee at Pennyrile State Park. "We have one little boy whose leg is in a cast right now and the governor actually signed his cast."
Barnes usually works in the pro shop at the park, but over the last several days, her attention has shifted to helping care for Kentuckians lodged there.
"People are going to have PTSD from this," Barnes said. "I've heard several say they have nightmares. The smallest little noise scares them now. And that's troubling."
Barnes worked 16 hours Saturday, tending to anything that needed to be done. She has focused much of her energy on helping others, despite the fact that her own house in Dawson Springs has sustained damage.
"I consider myself very blessed compared to so many others," Barnes said. "I don't complain about anything at all, because our home is still standing upright, whereas many others are not."
Barnes and her husband are also staying at the park, as they wait for their home to be repaired. She told LEX 18 that she would be "thrilled" if they could return by Christmas Eve.
"Even with the windows boarded up and the tarp over the roof," she said. "I'm ready to go home."
For those who have lost so much in the tornadoes, Barnes said Sunday's visit underscored the message that Kentucky is united.
"We're Kentucky," she said. "We are Kentucky strong and we will get through this. And we'll be okay."