Beloved weatherman Rusty Garrett, a pillar of Food For Families, sends support as he battles cancer

Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 5:13 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Beloved Central Texas weatherman Rusty Garrett, a pillar of the Food For Families food drive since its inception in 1990, will be sidelined this year as he fights esophageal cancer, but still is offering a message of support to viewers and issuing a challenge.

“Unfortunately, due to circumstances, I’m unable to be a physical part, but I’ll be there spiritually, and I hope that you will step in in my stead and bring in those donations of non-perishable food items,” Rusty said. “It will help families throughout our area.”

In Food For Families’ inaugural year in 1990, Rusty was stationed at a donation site in Temple, but every year following, Rusty has led the charge in Gatesville, where Central Texans turned out in droves to donate record amounts year after year.

Rusty has only missed one food drive in 32 years after once contracting the flu.

When Rusty was diagnosed with esophageal cancer on August 31, 2022, he immediately began to think of others. In his only sit-down interview since his diagnosis, Rusty talked about making sure Toys for Tots was successful in his absence.

Rusty Garrett was diagnosed in July with stage 2 to 3 esophageal cancer,  which is cancer that...
Rusty Garrett was diagnosed in July with stage 2 to 3 esophageal cancer, which is cancer that occurs in the esophagus, a long, hollow tube that runs from the throat to the stomach.(Courtesy Photo)

Rusty’s wife, Ann, who is his primary caregiver, said he also reached out to Gatesville Care Center organizer Deral McWhorter to tell him how sorry he was that cancer would keep him from reporting live during the annual drive.

Rusty said not being with those in Gatesville this Friday will be tough. “I want to give a big shoutout to all my friends at the Gatesville Fire Station,” Rusty said. “I’ll miss seeing you this year.”

Rusty already finished five rounds of chemo and 24 radiation treatments. Before his final round of treatment, he had a feeding tube inserted after he became too weak from a lack of nutrition.

Rusty is taking a month off and then will be reassessed before undergoing a major surgery in late December or early January.

Rusty is hopeful he’ll make a full recovery and admits he has good days and bad, but says he’s not taking a single breath for granted as he remains motivated by his faith and his love for his family.

“We can’t say enough good about the amazing caregivers we have taking care of Rusty in Temple and in Waco,” Ann said. “Their expertise, kindness, compassion and prayers have been a tremendous blessing and they are leading us on this challenging journey.”