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George Fox University to Help Faculty Member and His Wife Adopt Overseas Twins


2001 Edition of ‘Mr. Bruin’ Pageant at George Fox University to Help Faculty Member and His Wife Adopt Overseas Twins

NEWBERG, Ore. — They won’t display their special talents on stage until April 5, but already all 12 male contestants in George Fox University’s annual “Mr. Bruin” Pageant have earned perhaps an even more meaningful title ?21;honorary uncle.”

That’s because all 12 will have a special relationship to twin girls from either Russia or China who soon will receive the love of a new father and mother in Oregon. The 12 students are helping a George Fox faculty member and his wife fulfill their longtime dream of first-time parenthood through international adoption.

“The heart of these guys is so precious,” says Carrie Gess of Tigard, Ore. She and her husband, Andrew, excitedly anticipate welcoming two female infants into their household, possibly as soon as this fall, through International Family Services (IFS). “Already one of the 12 students just called me out of the blue, just to check in and say, ‘We just want to be here for you.’ ”

In fact, the 12 students pitched in together on a recent weekend and helped do painting and cleanup to prepare the Gesses’ home for the babies’ eventual arrival.

The pageant, which takes its title from the university’s “Bruin” mascot, will begin at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 5, in Bauman Auditorium, on the Newberg campus. Tickets are $4 each at the door.

Carrie Gess is a public relations specialist at the Portland headquarters of the Christian relief agency Northwest Medical Teams International, and is a former member of George Fox’s Advancement staff. Andrew Gess, who joined the George Fox faculty in 1991, is an assistant professor of management in the university’s adult degree-completion program at George Fox’s Portland Center, 12753 S.W. 68th Ave.

Now in its fifth annual run, the Mr. Bruin Pageant is a lighthearted event but also has a serious purpose ?h year a different non-profit program is selected to in this year’s show go toward the Gesses’ costs of adopting through IFS.

Texas-based International Family Services recently opened its first Northwest office at 107 N. Meridian in Newberg. The office is staffed by George Fox graduates Rob Mardock, who is the son of IFS founder Carol Mardock, and Rachelle Staley. Since its founding in 1990, IFS has completed more than 2,000 adoptions and now has nine offices in eight states. It expects to place 400 children from at least 10 nations this year.

While a student at George Fox, Staley chaired an earlier Mr. Bruin Pageant and Rob Mardock was a contestant in last year’s competition, so this year’s pageant organizers had become aware of IFS and decided it was a worthy cause for the show. They approached Campus Pastor Gregg Lamm to find out if anyone in the George Fox community might be interested in receiving support toward an international adoption. Lamm referred them to faculty member Alex Pia, who has already adopted children from overseas. Pia, in turn, told them of the Gesses and their strong interest in adoption.

The Gesses were elated when they learned of the students’ interest in helping to defray the high costs of adopting ?much as $30,000 for twins.

“We feel incredibly fortunate to be the recipient of the students’ hard work,” said Carrie. “Although we had looked into the idea of doing an international adoption for a few years, we always found the costs to be prohibitive. When the students asked if we were interested, I could hardly believe it. This opportunity makes all the difference to us.”

“Our main goal this year with the pageant is to raise awareness of international family adoption,” said George Fox student Jana Swindler, who is co-directing the show with fellow student Natalie Long.

The pageant will open with a brief talk by IFS’ first adoptee, Angela Mardock, who came from Romania and is now 10 years old. That will be followed by a video presentation that shows the 12 contestants’ baby pictures. Next will be an overview of IFS presented by Carol Mardock. The contestants will then model casual wear, escorted by children who have been adopted internationally.

The talent competition will then take place, giving each contestant about three minutes to perform. In the past, pageant participants have composed and performed songs, done impersonations, or shown off such unique skills as underwater basket weaving.

The contestants also will model evening wear while they are escorted by women students. There also will be an impromptu question segment that includes involvement by the contestants’ mothers, who are special guests at the event.. The mothers will each be asked a question off stage. Their sons will be asked identical questions on stage, and the two answers will be compared.

The program also will include “blooper” videos of the contestants’ rehearsals, and a video about IFS.

The candidates are working hard to raise funds prior to the pageant. They will be evaluated on the amount of funds raised, talent competition and personal interviews. George Fox faculty or staff will serve as pageant judges.

Mr. Bruin candidates, elected by their peers, are: seniors Thong Nguyen, a business major from Portland, Ore.; Jonathan Morell, a psychology major from Puyallup, Wash.; and Reid Tenkley, an accounting major from Vancouver, Wash.; juniors Tim Williams, a sociology major from Philomath, Ore.; Demetri Tsohantaridis, a business major from Newberg, Ore.; and Jeff Kirksey, an organizational communications major from Toston, Mont.; sophomores James Eubank, a liberal arts major from Astoria, Ore.; Richie Clausen, an engineering major from Anchorage, Alaska; and Dave Tussing, a computer and information sciences major from Newberg, Ore; and freshmen Jesse Elliott, a liberal arts major from Albany, Ore,; Chad Stillinger, a liberal arts major from Salem, Ore.; and Ben Salisbury, a liberal arts major from Bellingham, Wash.

For more information on International Family Services, phone 503-538-3665.

2001 Jan 1