Elon, North Carolina|Thursday, January 26, 2017
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Acorn worker’s Disney dream becomes a reality 

The friendly faces behind the counter serving you cookies, sandwiches and coffee at Acorn are often thought of as just workers with some southern sweetness. One Acorn employee, Kathryn has been working in the coffee shop for over 10 years. One night, she told two Elon students her dream of taking her family to Disney World. The two girls saw the passion and heart Kathryn put into each shift, even when they lasted until 2 a.m. Lucy Smith-Williams, a freshman, and Taylor Zisholtz, a junior, decided they needed to help.

Lucy Smith-Williams and Taylor Zisholtz holding a poster full of comments for Kathryn from the GoFundMe page.   Photo by Jackie Pascale

Zisholtz said the only convincing they needed was Kathryn’s sweet smile.

“I really took to her warmth, and I’ve seen her here a lot and she’s always in here,” Zisholtz said. “Just from talking to her, 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.”

They started a GoFundMe page for Kathryn in hopes to raise the $6,500 it would take to send her and her family to Disney World. The two girls behind the magic never believed they’d raise more than their goal in less than three weeks. One special donation of $1000 came from a GoFundMe employee. 

“I called GoFundMe and they said it’s kind of like their employee of the month gets to choose a cause to donate to,” Zisholtz said. “We were lucky enough that he chose us.”

Smith-Williams and Zisholtz walked Kathryn to her surprise of the fundraiser that’ll send her and her family to Disney World. Photo by Jackie Pascale

The reveal went perfectly - Kathryn had no clue about the fundraiser and cried tears of joy when she heard her family trip was paid for and planned exclaimed, “Are you serious?!” and “It’s a dream come true!”

Kathryn’s family, which includes her son, daughter-in-law and her two grandsons, had no knowledge of the fundraiser either. Kathryn predicts they’ll be shocked.

“Well, they know I don’t have it to take ’em, you know, but it’s always been a dream of mine,” Kathryn said .

One of her grandsons is a huge Disney fan. Kathryn says he “he finds Mickey and he just hugs him.”

Kathryn has just one thing to say to those who donated: “Thank y’all and I love y’all.”

Follow the planning of the trip and updates from Kathryn on elonlocalnews.com.

About the author: Jackie Pascale

Jackie Pascale is a junior broadcast journalism major & anchor for ELN's evening newscast. She is from Collegeville, PA and has interned at 69 News WFMZ in Allentown, PA. Follow her on twitter: @Jackie_Pascale

5 Responses to Acorn worker’s Disney dream becomes a reality

  1. avatar
    George Polloow

    I was very happy when I finally saw a headline about “Good News”. I think the students who originated this kind gift deserve a big thank you.

  2. avatar
    Lydia Van Beek

    This story lifted my spirits. It’s nice to read about people who show kindness to someone making their life brighter…these ladies did so, unselfishly without a hidden agenda….they did it for the pure joy of making a ladies life-long dream come true!
    You made your parents proud!
    God bless you real good!

  3. avatar
    Janet Sherard Foster

    My sister, Kathryn, is the hardest working, sweetest, kindest, most loving person in this world. She works 2 jobs EVERY day! She only has 4 hours of sleep a night. She gets up every morning and it starts all over again . She gets home around 2 am from the Acorn and goes to work early in the cafeteria of a local school. She would give anyone her last breath, her last penny or the shirt off her back. She is kind, loving and giving. I am SO thankful for the recognition these dear college students are giving her for her dream of going to Disney! Thank you all from the bottom of my heart!!!
    Janet Sherard Foster

  4. avatar
    Jeff Johnson

    Saw your article and loved the heart of those two ladies and wanted to do something to pay it forward to them. I’d love to offer them a gift certificate and a free PINK card (our benefit this month to raise Breast Cancer Awareness) to come shop for us as a reward for their kindness. I have also reached out to a friend who has an exclusive Disney travel agency in case Kathryn hasn’t made her plans yet to see if there was a special package for her to offer. Please let me know if there is a way to contact these ladies to say Thank you for your kindness! Thanks! - Jeff Johnson, GM Tanger Outlets Mebane

  5. avatar
    Adrian Waters Albea

    I had the pleasure of teaching Kathryn in the fourth grade at Burlington’s Fisher Street Elementary School. I can still see her sitting in my classroom with that sweet impish grin on her face. She was a great student and a joy to teach.

    Thank you all for making her dream become a reality.

    Adrian Waters Albea

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