Dawson Springs community walk provides opportunity to remember and reflect

One participant, a man who lost his mother and aunt in the December tornado outbreak, came from Nashville to join the walk.

Members of the Dawson Springs community and area supporters gathered Saturday for Walk for Dawson, a walk through part of the city damaged by the December tornado outbreak.

The event started at the Dawson Springs Primitive Baptist Church and was organized by Donnie Dunbar, who also coordinates the Dawson Springs BBQ 5K. He grew up in Dawson Springs around where the walk took place.

“You walk by memories, but there’s nothing visually the same that’s where you are,” Dunbar said. “It’ll always be part of memories. But this walk’s part of stepping forward and we’re trying. Dawson will be back. We’ll do good.”

Dawson Springs community members begin their Walk for Dawson on Saturday, April 30, through tornado damaged areas of the town. (Photo by Lily Burris)

Dunbar was thankful for all the people in attendance and amazed the caring people within the community and the whole southeast.

Jason Cummins grew up in Dawson Springs, but he lives in Nashville now. He lost his mother and aunt in the December tornado outbreak. He’s been back to Dawson Springs a few times since then. He heard about the event from Dunbar because he normally participated in the 5K.

“[When] they talked at the beginning of the walk, [they said] that we just don’t give up,” Cummins said. “You just put one foot in front of the other and keep going. There’s a strong will to rebuild everything and hopefully make it bigger and better than it was before.”

The route of the walk went near the home Cummin’s aunt and mother were in during the storm, allowing him and his family to spend a moment in remembrance.

Bill Brown grew up in the area destroyed by the December tornado outbreak. He stopped on the street he grew up on to look around where the neighborhood once was — now, it’s mostly flat with few indications of what was once there.

“When I was growing up, my job was I had to mow yards. I mowed all these yards. I had like 20 yards that I mowed every summer and they were all little widowed women and one of them paid me with a dime and a pack of gum because that’s all she could and that was fine,” Brown said. “It’s just so many memories. We played the streets every night.”

Brown hopes to see people come back to Dawson Springs and rebuild after everything that’s happened.

Lily Burris headshot

WKMS Tornado Recovery Reporter Lily Burris

Lily Burris is a tornado recovery reporter for WKMS, Murray State’s NPR Station. Her nine-month reporting project is supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.