CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — West Texas A&M University recently announced its Family of the Year recipient, awarding a single mom and her daughter from Canyon the honor during a weekend celebration.

Isabella Van Stavern, a freshman wildlife biology major and her mom, Ashley Bell, an interior designer at Officewise in Amarillo, were honored with the award at a brunch celebration during WT Family Weekend which took place from Oct. 27 to 29, according to officials.

“What stood out in Isabella’s nomination was the love and appreciation she had for Ashley as a single mother and her understanding of the struggles that come with being a single mother,” said Amanda Lawson, senior director of orientation and academic success for WT. “Isabella also wrote convincingly about how supportive and encouraging her mom has been about her attending WT.”

Officials added that the mother/daughter duo was also recognized as honorary captains during pre-game activities before WT’s final home game of the season.

“It’s an unbelievable honor as a mom to have your firstborn baby girl honor you like this,” Bell said. “It’s pretty special.”

“Express your love as much as possible for the people who you love,” Van Stavern said. “This is one way I’m doing that for my mom.”

“This woman has been through so much in her life, and I am so amazed every day that she is my mother,” Van Stavern wrote in her nomination letter. “The way she has pulled herself out of the dark over and over again is incredible. She has been a single mother for a good time now and as much as it is a struggle, she makes it look effortless. I love her from the bottom of my heart, and she is my motivation to keep going every day. She has showed me that no matter what, you can get through it.”

Officials noted that the WT Family Weekend gave registered families the chance to meet faculty members, along with tailgate during the Countdown to Kickoff Block Party before WT’s game against Angelo State University.

In addition, families had the opportunity to receive free admission to the Virgil Henson Activities Center, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum and Palo Duro Canyon State Park along with exclusive deals from Canyon businesses during the family weekend.

In 2022, Francisco and Sara Trejo of Gruver were named WT’s Family of the Year. According to officials, the Family of the Year is chosen by a committee of staff members.

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