By Lindsay Starr Platt, The Belton Journal
The Bell County Expo Center was host to the 2015 Annual “Rusty” Awards Ceremony on Tuesday night. This year was the 35th year for the award ceremony, and nine awards were given out.
The theme for this year’s award ceremony was “Home is Where the Heart Is.” The theme was fitting as this year’s guest speaker, Greg Barry, was once from Bell County. Berry, now a San Antonio resident, grew up in Salado. Berry has lived his entire life unable to walk, but not unable to achieve dreams.
“Dream big and go for it,” said Berry. “My keys to life are pretty simple: faith, trust in Jesus, attitude, adversity, perseverance and discipline. Life is not going to hand you free passes.”
The “Rusty” Awards were named after Rusty Morales, who became disabled at age 17 after an accident. Rusty’s mother, Judy Morales, went to seek what opportunities would be available for her son as a disabled person. Rusty died in 2009, and since then, the awards have been named in his honor.
Geraldine B. Lorio received the Laura “Pat” Taylor Advocate of the Year Award.
“Geraldine has survived five strokes. She couldn’t see out of her eye or speak not very long ago,” remarked Maureen Jouett, director of Bring Everyone in the Zone. “She has volunteered over 2,000 hours this year. We are happy to have her.”
Michael and Dorris Fortson were awarded the “Jim & Daurice Bowmer Family of the Year Award” for their ministry work in Tanzania. The Forstons operate a rescue center in Arusha, Tanzania, called Neema House, which rescues orphaned and abandoned babies. Neema means “grace” in Swahili. The Neema House helps the babies thrive and hopefully can reunite them with their families or get them adopted to their new “forever home.”
“Doris and I are humbled at receiving this award. In a country where three million babies are “at risk,” we have held, cared and loved these babies,” said Michael Forston. “In two and a half years, we have taken care of 88 babies.”