When you were in college, you likely developed at least one special bond with a professor. Maybe it was someone whose teachings changed your outlook on life, or maybe it was someone who inspired you to pursue a new career path.
Professors can have a profound impact on your college days. But sometimes it’s the faces of those outside of the classroom that become the most memorable ones.
Kathryn Thompson is a coffee shop employee on the campus of Elon University. A dedicated employee who works five nights a week and leaves at 2:00 AM every day, Thompson recently struck up a conversation with some of the patrons sitting in the shop.
One was a junior named Taylor Zisholtz, and the other was a freshman named Lucy Smith-Williams. Two students who were complete strangers until this evening.
As they made small talk, Lucy happened to mention she was originally from Florida. And that’s when Thompson’s eyes lit up. She started asking probing questions like, “How long does it take to drive there?,” and “How much would it cost to take a family of five to Disney World?”
As the conversation flowed, the girls noticed Thomspon was overcome with emotion…even tearing at times. It was then that she revealed her dream in life is to take her son and his family to Disney World.
After speaking with Thompson for a few minutes and watching her interact with other students who would come and go, it soon became clear to Zisholtz and Smith-Williams that this 10-year coffee shop veteran deserved to live out her dream.
When they parted ways for the evening, Zisholtz and Smith-Williams couldn’t stop thinking about their encounter with Thompson. The two strangers quickly engaged in their own personal conversation, and began brainstorming on ways they could make a difference for Thompson.
“I looked at [Smith-Williams] and was like, ‘We’re doing this, we can do this, we have to do something,’ ” Zisholtz told The Elon Pendulum“.
That is when the two women started a GoFundMe page to raise enough funds to help make Thompson’s dream a reality.
They researched the cost of a trip to Disney and estimated it would come out to approximately $6,000. They setup the page that same evening, and distributed a link to the Elon University students and its alumni.
Within just a few days, they were already halfway to their goal. And in less than one month, they raised over $8,000 that would go towards a surprise trip for Thompson and her family.
(At the time this article was posted, the pair had raised $10,500!)
On the day of the big reveal, Zisholtz and Smith-Williams dressed wearing Mickey Mouse T-shirts and created a big sign that read, “We wanted to thank you for all that you do… you and your family are going to DISNEY WORLD!”
The sign also included many of the comments that people had posted on their GoFundMe page.
Needless to say, Thompson was once again overcome with emotion. But this time, it was tears of joy.
“It’s a dream come true. I love y’all.”
“It was everything we hoped for,” Zisholtz said. “We couldn’t have done it without the community.”
Thompson said she still needs to plan a date for the trip, but is excited to see her grandson’s eyes light up when he meets Mickey.
You can watch the following video on YouTube to see the moment Thompson’s surprise was revealed!