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Disney bound: college cafe worker surprised by students with dream trip

Elon University students love Kathryn Thompson, an employee at Acorn Coffee Shop. They love her so much that the North Carolina student surprised her Monday with a fully paid vacation to Disney World.

Students Lucy Smith-Williams and Taylor Zisholtz discovered Thompson’s long standing dream of visiting Disney World and then turned their university community for support and went to action to make her dream come true by starting a GoFundMe campaign.

“I really took to her warmth,” Zisholtz spoke of Thompson “She was very invested in where we were from, what we were doing, and when she said ‘it’s my dream,’ I thought, ‘well there’s 6,000 people here with at least a dollar. We could probably make this happen.'”

It’s been a decade since Thompson started work her five day a week shifts (that end at 2 in the morning). Both of her parents graduated from Elon back in the 50s. She herself had minimal resources and opportunities to leave.

“She’s been here for a long time,” said Acorn’s assistant location manager Glenn Austin, “She’s dependable. She hardly ever calls off and is a stable employee for the night shift.”

Back in September, Smith-Williams and Zisholtz learned of Thompson’s dream to go to Disney World, during a discussion in which she shared about her grandson, who is autistic, and how he loves Mickey Mouse. She has always wanted to take him to the theme park.

The pair looked into tickets for a family of five (Thompson’s family) and discovered that it would be easy to fund if only half of Elon’s student body would donated $2. When their GoFundMe campaign started off, they exceeded their goal of $6,500 goal and did it in less than a month. Smith-Williams and Zisholtz, dressed in Mickey Mouse T-shirts and armed with gift bags of Disney goodies, presented the surprise. Thompson was moved to tears.

“It’s a dream come true,” Thompson said, “Thank y’all and I love y’all.”