Students raise money so elderly waitress can go to Disney World

Two students surprised an elderly waitress and her entire family by raising money to send them to Disney World.

Kathryn Thompson, a worker at the Acorn coffee shop on the Elon University campus, told students Taylor Ziisholtz and Lucy Smith-Williams about her dream to take her grandson, who has autism, to the theme park to meet his favourite character, Mickey Mouse. Little did she know that the students would start a Go Fund Me campaign and raise the money for her to do precisely this. The students described the encounter on their Go Fund Me page.

On this Friday night at Acorn, just four people filled the coffee shop before the usual late nights bustle begins. Kathryn, the Acorn force of nature who delivered my sandwich order with a good ole' heaping of Southern charm, struck up a conversation with me, and Lucy, the other Elon student a table away who was deep into her laptop.

"Where ya’ll from"? she asks so warmly.

Kathryn didn't have much to say about my hometown, a Philadelphia suburb, but she sure lit up when Lucy announced that she was from Florida.

"How long does it take to drive from here to Florida?” she demanded," And how much do you think that it would cost for me to take my family of five to Disney World"?

Kathryn's eyes filled with tears as she spilled out her biggest dream in life is to take her son, daughter-in-law, and two grandsons to Disney World.

"I just want that so badly", she confesses. "I have never been anywhere but here."

Her parents were graduates of Elon back in the 50’s. It didn't take much longer for Lucy and me, to grasp the kind of hard work and dedication that Kathryn has brought to Elon throughout her ten years of service at our university. That same commitment is even more evident in the pictures and stories that we saw and heard that Friday night of her adorable grandsons Jeremy and Joshua.
It didn't take long for me, and for my new friend, Lucy, to appreciate the hard work and the sweetness that Kathryn has served up at every Elon dining shift that she has covered. It's five nights every week that you can count on her generous helping of down to earth sincerity and open friendliness served up with every plate she delivers.

At 2:00am, when the shift is over, Kathryn returns home to her beloved little dog, satisfied that everyone from the Elon community was taken care of with a smile.

Lucy and I hatched the idea to ask for donations to make this sweet woman's dream come true.
Please help in any way big or tiny, it all adds up. It would send Kathryn and her family on their way. But let's keep this surprise on the down low from Kathryn.

Kathryn has no idea that her dream is about to be served up to her on an Elon silver platter.


Within three days of starting the campaign they had raised the £3,900 they estimated it would cost to send Kathryn and her family to Disney World. As it currently stands six days on they have raised almost £6,200, which Taylor and Lucy say will go straight to making the trip as awesome as possible for the whole family.

I have said it before but we just truly had one of the most shocking days today as we witnessed the love and generosity pour in from across the country. Kathryn is an exceptional person and deserves every ounce of love she is receiving. We just wanted to make it totally clear that every cent of donation is headed to make Kathryn’s trip as incredible as we can possibly make it for the whole family. The messages, shares, likes, texts, and all the other forms of sweet words and encouraging thoughts are so, so appreciated by both Lucy and myself. Not one message has gone unnoticed, every kind word has made us smile from ear to ear.

The moment they surprised Kathryn with the gesture is right here.

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