People interested in learning the cowboy cha-cha while helping a longtime dance instructor get back on his feet are invited to attend a benefit for J.W. Morgan at 7 p.m today at the Center for Movement Arts.
Morgan shattered his femur in an unusual accident March 4 and underwent subsequent surgery to remove a large-cell tumor from his bone that leaves him facing a six-month recovery. In addition to being unable to teach country-western dance classes as he has for 30 years, Morgan is unable to continue working as a truck driver.
"I've been a real healthy person my whole life," Morgan said. "The thing that just kicked me in the stomach was the cancer. It will be hard for me to sit and watch people dance," Friday night.
The Center for Movement Arts is on 11th Street in the Old Pilot Building. Those in attendance at the benefit will enjoy deejay Mike Carrington, and instructors will be on hand to teach the cowboy cha-cha. All ages are welcome -- beer and wine will be available for those 21 and older. Admission is $7 per person.
Robin Getter, who is hosting the benefit at the Center for Movement Arts, said Morgan has a special teaching style that puts couples at ease during the process of learning to dance together.
"I feel he's really kept swing and ballroom dance going in this town," Getter said. "He's really supportive of all the interactions that happen between couples when they are learning to dance. He's sensitive to a man's perspective, and he's sensitive to a woman's perspective. He's really careful to not push students too much, and I think that's a part of why he has such a good following."
Longtime friend and former teaching partner Polly Cogswell said Morgan can relate to men who are uncomfortable about stepping out on the dance floor.
"My favorite thing he used to say to me was, 'I promise to make no guy look bad in front of his date,'" Cogswell recalled with a laugh.
Morgan said he banged his knee on the wooden frame of a couch in late February but thought little of it when it hurt for a time. Then, on March 4, he stepped out of his truck onto a patch of ice, and fell to the ground with a shattered femur.
He was treated in the emergency department at Yampa Valley Medical Center -- X-rays revealed the tumor. Morgan was then flown to Denver for surgery. The tumor was scraped out of the femur, which was repaired with bone cement and a steel plate.
"The doctor told me, 'You've probably had (the tumor) all of your life.'" Morgan said. The long-term degradation it caused to the femur contributed to the injury in March. Now, Morgan cannot walk without crutches for at least three months and, so, cannot go back to work.