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Liberty News

Parents of the Year recognized for strength to overcome

October 27, 2014 : Liberty University News Service

Liberty University students and their families enjoyed beautiful weather and several fun-filled activities and opportunities for fellowship over the annual Fall Family Weekend, Oct. 24-26, hosted by the Parent and Family Connections Office.

Among the weekend activities were guided tours of Liberty’s campus, a football game, a coffee social, and a family banquet.

Families attended Friday’s Convocation together, where Liberty parent and Hall of Fame NFL quarterback Jim Kelly and his family shared their story.

On Friday night, more than 1,200 people gathered for the Fall Family Banquet held in the Tolsma Indoor Track in Marie F. Green Hall to celebrate the important role loved ones play in a student’s life.

The Bells, Liberty University's 2014 Outstanding Parents of the Year.
James and Linda Bell, the 2014 Outstanding Parents of the Year, were nominated by their daughter, Hayley.

During the banquet, this year’s Outstanding Parents of the Year, James and Linda Bell of Greenwich, R.I., were recognized. They were nominated by their daughter, Hayley, who submitted the contest’s winning essay. With her parents by her side, she read her essay aloud before the audience.

“My dad is my biggest inspiration in my life as a student, an athlete, and a servant of God,” Hayley said. She explained that her father was told he would never walk again after shattering his leg when he fell off of a two-story ladder. However, as his family rallied around him, James Bell showed strength and determination in his recovery and has regained his ability to walk. He even runs 5K races with his daughter.

“When all odds were against him,” Hayley said, “God prevailed and my dad pushed through and continued to provide for his family while serving the Lord to the best of his ability. That is why my father is different than most fathers; he is a fighter who did the impossible. I can only hope to grow to be half the person that he is today.”

The sophomore said that the experience inspired her to major in exercise science to become a physical therapist.

“It’s very humbling,” James Bell said. “Oftentimes I don’t feel like an outstanding parent, but it’s good to see that even through my trials she saw things that she could take into her life as positives.”

The Bells have a rich family heritage at Liberty. James and Linda met while attending Liberty. In addition to Hayley, who is currently enrolled, their daughter, Emily, graduated from Liberty in 2011 and their son, Jordan, graduated in May.

The Parent and Family Connections Office awarded Hayley’s parents hotel accommodations for the weekend and a prize package that included fresh fruit, snacks, and Liberty merchandise. Hayley was awarded $100 in Flames Cash and a $75 gift card to Liberty’s Barnes & Noble Bookstore.

“I think these essays are a great way to honor our parents,” said Theresa Dunbar, director of Parent and Family Connections. “So many parents make sacrifices to send their students to Liberty, and it’s nice to hear those stories.”

Hayley and her parents attended several weekend athletic events, including the Flames Football game Saturday. She also enjoyed showing them the developing construction projects across campus.

  • The Parent and Family Connections Office exists to support student success, generate goodwill for the university, and provide tools to promote growing relationships between Liberty students and their families.

Fall Family Weekend 2014

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