Baldwin EMC recently honored George Watters with the Baldwin EMC/Touchstone Energy Power and Hope award, which recognizes co-op employees for exceptional actions that provide power and hope within the cooperative network or the communities in which the employees serve.
Watters received the award for his heroic efforts during the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Fest last May.
Watters is a long-time volunteer at the balloon fest, where he’s become well-acquainted with Cheri White, pilot for the Touchstone Energy hot air balloon. When White traveled to Foley, Ala., for the festival last spring, she brought along her father, Sam Edwards, a retired hot air balloon pilot. Edwards is also a three-time stroke survivor, which has left him with dementia and short-term memory loss.
On the evening of the festival, while White, Watters and a crew of volunteers were preparing to glow the balloon, they realized Edwards had wondered off. That’s when White said her longtime-friend Watters, who works both as a warehouseman for Baldwin EMC and a firefighter for the town of Silverhill, Ala., sprang into action.
“I saw [George and his son Justin] out in the parking lot and I told George, ‘they think my father might be in the woods,’” White said. “[George] went to his truck immediately, grabbed a flashlight and just headed into the very thick woods.”
With nothing besides the flashlight to help navigate his way through the darkness, Watters combed through the heavily wooded field near the balloon festival grounds. After a 30-minute search, everyone’s prayers were answered.
“George and my dad came walking out of the woods,” White said. “They were covered in scratches and insects, and just had been in the thick of it. But they were both smiling. I think George was crying a little bit. He was so happy that he had found my dad.”
In honor of these heroic events, in July, Baldwin EMC’s board of trustees voted to honor Watters with the Baldwin EMC Touchstone Energy Power and Hope Award, which was presented to him on Oct. 8.
Watters accepted the award and dedicated it to his son Justin, who he said immediately stepped up to help in the search.
The Baldwin EMC/Touchstone Energy Power and Hope award was introduced in 2007 to honor employees who go above and beyond in an emergency. To date, 24 Baldwin EMC employees have been recognized with the award.