FTA 2019 Honors Were ‘Monumental’

FTA 2019 Honors Were ‘Monumental’

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Under the glow of a spot lit Mount Rushmore, the Family Travel Association honored six members for their outstanding contributions to our industry and to our communities on the final night of the Summit. Dining at the National Memorial’s Carvers’ Café, the FTA celebrated the diversity of its members and their unique approaches to family travel during an often touching, and inspiring evening.

Russell True receives his Person of the Year Award.

Receiving Person of the Year honors was Russell True, owner of the White Stallion Ranch, Tucson, Arizona, for his dedication to creating unique family vacations and leadership in the dude ranch industry.

Co-founder and president of the Arizona Dude Ranch Association and two-time president of the Dude Ranchers’ Association, True also owns Tombstone Monument Ranch in Tombstone and Rancho de la Osa in Sasabe. In 2017, True was inducted into the Arizona Tourism Hall of Fame.

Heather Greenwood Davis celebrates with FTA Honors awardee Ken Shapiro.

In a rousing, laughter-filled introduction, Media Center Member Heather Greenwood Davis roasted FTA Honors recipient Ken Shapiro, Vice President, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Travel Age West.

Shapiro has been a staunch, long-time supporter of the Family Travel Association’s mission, forming a fruitful partnership that has helped amplify the FTA’s message, while also integrating many of the FTA’s media members into the publication’s editorial copy. Shapiro, who sits on the FTA Advisory Board, also oversees Family Getaways, a publication solely focused on family travel and distributed six times annually to 50,000 subscribers of both TravelAge West and Travel Weekly.

Crystal Dyer, Owner of Gone Again Travel, our next FTA Honors award recipient, was honored for her fortitude in the face of adversity, and work in her Chicago neighborhood to help young people experience travel, and consider travel as a career choice.

After losing her grandson tragically, Dyer launched Austin Youth Travel Adventures, which mentors local young people, and takes them on trips locally, around the U.S. and to Africa. Dyer could not attend the function due to doctor’s orders following a recent medical diagnosis.

Ben Perlo, G Adventures, receives his award.

Ben Perlo, Managing Director, G Adventures, was honored for his leadership in developing family-oriented tours with his company’s ground-breaking partnership with National Geographic Journeys.

In its fifth year, the program offers an enriching, in-depth look at the history, culture, and natural heritage of nearly 100 destinations in more than 50 countries.


Stephanie Sheehy (l.) celebrates with Nicole Thibault (r.)

Stephanie Sheehy, Co-owner of Costa Rica Family Holidays by Il Viaggio Travel, was honored for her company’s dedication to enhancing access to Costa Rica travel venues through the company’s non-profit, Red Costarricense de Turismo Accesible.

On March 1, 2019, the company inaugurated the first accessible beach with 21 pathways manufactured from 420,000 recycled objects and 521 kilograms of plastic bags, so the project is also helping protect the environment.

Sherry Ott’s mother and father were in attendance at the FTA Honors festivities.

Reminding us of all of the varieties of family travel, Sherry Ott, Founder of Ott’s World, was honored for her work with “The Niece Project.” A longtime traveler, blogger, and photographer, Ott has been writing about her travel lifestyle and around-the-world adventures on Ottsworld.com since 2006.

In 2012, Ott began a coming-of-age ritual with her six nieces, offering to journey with them anywhere in the world they wanted to go when they reached 16 years of age, and documenting it for all of us to enjoy and ponder the bigger meanings of “family.”

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