Homecoming Getaway Winners Experience a Fairy Tale Weekend
Once upon a time there was a family in Ohio, a mansion on a mountain and a contest that brought the two together.
In honor of the 40th Anniversary Homecoming, Liberty University sponsored a Weekend Getaway contest. Individuals entered by registering online and ‘liking’ three Liberty Facebook pages. The winner was selected from over 3,500 registrants.
Rich Kendle, wife Kendra and their four children traveled from their home in Ohio and were given V.I.P. treatment, Liberty style.
The Carter Glass Mansion became their home-away-from-home for the weekend. The mansion was the home of multi-term U.S. Senator Carter Glass before being acquired by Liberty. The office of Liberty founder Dr. Jerry Falwell was located in the mansion from 1990-2007, and has been preserved exactly as it was the day he died. After Dr. Falwell’s death, the rest of the home was renovated into a bed and breakfast to be used by special guests of the university. The Kendle family made themselves at home in the luxurious Jefferson suite upstairs. For Rich, a Liberty Online student, a highlight of the visit was a tour through the downstairs portion of the mansion that includes Dr. Falwell’s office. Kendle is completing a Bachelor of Science in Religion and has been involved in ministry most of his adult life. “Men like Dr. Falwell and Dr. Towns, who know what it means to bring up the next generation of Christians to be men of God are one in a million,” he said. “Individuals like them cut a path and made a way for men like my friends and me who want to embrace our God-given role as husbands and fathers and go against the flow of the culture.”
The family took part in most of the official Homecoming activities, beginning with Convocation on Friday. Rich commented that fellowshipping with other believers was what “fueled his spirit” and standing in the Vines center with the largest gathering of Christian students in the world was certainly an opportunity to stoke that fire.
Following Convocation, the entire family was initiated into true Liberty life when they dined at the Reber-Thomas Dining Hall. Students were intrigued watching Evelyn (6 years), Riley (4 years) and Giovanna (2 years) meander in and out of the lines.
Friday evening Rich and Kendra attended the Chancellor’s dinner along with Zachary (2 months) while the three little girls stayed behind with babysitters arranged by Liberty. The babysitters commented that they had just as much fun as the children.
Kendra and the children started Saturday morning at the Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre. The girls tubed down the beginner slope while Rich stayed behind at the mansion to finish writing two papers for his online courses. He thought about emailing his professors and asking for an extension as part of the V.I.P. treatment, but decided against it.
For the children, the highlight of the trip finally came Saturday afternoon when they climbed aboard a special parade float created for the V.I.P. family. They rode down University Boulevard throwing fistfuls of candy at the crowds. In the eyes of a child, riding in a parade is the substance of fairy tales and Evelyn, Riley and Giovanna felt like princesses that day.
The day climaxed with the football game in Williams Stadium watching the Liberty Flames trounce the Costal Carolina Chanticleers. Prior to the game, the family helped raise the 71 flag before heading up to the club level seats specially reserved for them.
For the Kendle family, the true fairy tale was becoming more connected to Liberty. “Liberty has been part of my life for three years,” said Rich, “and even though LU does a good job making their online students feel accepted and part of the student body, it is a completely different experience to enter campus.” He summed up the experience this way, “You guys didn’t treat us like just some ‘contest winner’ – you made us feel like family.”
As the family headed home on Sunday, descending down from their time on “The Mountain,” they had already begun to plan their return visit. “Lord willing, we will be back in May, 2013 for my graduation,” proclaimed Rich. Since returning home, they have already begun to recruit students from the youth group they lead and discuss plans for their children to one day attend Liberty.