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Liberty News

Fall Family Weekend packed full with campus events

October 22, 2012 : By Bethany Pico/Liberty University News Service

Nearly 3,000 family members of Liberty University students visited campus for the 11th annual Fall Family Weekend, Oct. 19-21, experiencing students’ “home away from home.”

The event is sponsored by the Parent and Family Connections Office.

Families enjoyed several activities on campus, including attending classes with their children, ice skating at LaHaye Ice Center, tours hosted by the Hancock Welcome Center, skiing and snowboarding at Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre, several sporting events, including a home football game, tailgating, and Scaremare. An art expo was on display Friday night in the Tilley Student Center, showing families student submissions in fine art, mixed media, photography, and digital media. First and second place awards will be presented for each category.

Siblings also had the opportunity to stay on residence halls and experience campus life.

Theresa Dunbar, director of Parent and Family Connections, said she hopes Liberty families “feel that Liberty is their entire family’s school.”

“Parents want to be included, as they are investing financially into their student’s education just as they have invested so much of their values and beliefs into them for the past 18-plus years,” Dunbar said. “Offering this event helps them feel connected to their student and to the university.”

On Saturday parents were treated to a special coffee bar, attended a book signing featuring former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and his wife, Callista, at the Liberty University Barnes & Noble Bookstore, and got a chance to participate in Liberty’s gameday experience, catching some Flames fever as they tailgated with students and watched the football team beat Concord 21-13.

After a busy weekend of activities, families were invited to relax in the Vines Center at a free movie night sponsored by Student Activities. The double-feature event screened "Brave" and "Madagascar 3" with free popcorn available.

Paul and Lori Thomas were presented the Outstanding Parent of the Year Award. Their daugher, Lynn, submitted the essay which won the contest.

Friday evening a special banquet dinner was held in the Schilling Center at LaHaye Student Union. Families enjoyed a delicious dinner, music from Sounds of Liberty, and an opportunity to hear from Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. The Outstanding Parent of the Year Award was presented to Paul and Lori Thomas. Their daughter, senior Lynn Thomas, submitted an essay, which was chosen from more than 100 entries in the fourth annual contest.

Lynn Thomas was born in Korea. At 2 years old, her birth mother abandoned her. She said she was “abused, overworked, starved, and rejected,” and every day was a struggle to survive. When she was 6, Paul and Lori Thomas adopted her and lovingly welcomed her into their home in America.

“In my last three years of Liberty, I have grown to appreciate my story and the life my parents have provided for me,” Lynn Thomas wrote in her winning essay. “They have loved me as their own and have nurtured, educated, and loved me in ways that I never even dreamed of as a little orphan girl. They introduced me to a loving God and have encouraged me to seek His plan for my life.”

A Health Promotions major, she wrote that her parents rescued her from an orphanage “filled with abuse and welcomed me with open arms.”

“I shudder at the thought of my life without them,” she continued. “I believe that my parents deserve the Outstanding Parent Award because they brought a girl out of desperation and breathed light into her future.”

As contest winners, the Thomases received two free nights at Liberty’s Wingate hotel, tickets to Liberty’s football game, items from the Campus Bookstore, and a restaurant gift certificate. Lynn Thomas received 200 meal points and a $25 gift certificate to the bookstore.

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