GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — For Patrick Ziegler and Teresa Thome, it was a dream.
"She was exactly what you want her to be," says Ziegler.
When Betty White came to Laughfest in 2011, they worked directly with her during her time in Grand Rapids.
"She was so down to earth, so respectful and just a ball of energy," Ziegler remembers.
Thome says as a fan of White, asking her questions was a pleasure. When she asked how it felt to be so successful, White told her she'd be even better than her.
"She was like, oh, you're going to do more than I ever accomplished," says Thome. "You start now and you'll do great. I'm like, well I better get working!"
And for Ziegler, she had some advice on staying energized at an old age.
"I said how are you doing are you tired? And she said no, you're only tired if you think you are," laughs Ziegler.
Thome says the experience has stuck with her for the last ten years, and will continue to do so for the rest of her life.
"As I move through life I hope that I can be a little more like Betty White," says Thome. "I hope that I can embody what she brought to me and I hope I can do that for other people. And I hope I do it at 99."
Ziegler even talked with White about death, and today, remembers that conversation fondly.
"She loved what her mother would say about it," remembers Ziegler. "She would say, after somebody passed, she would say, oh, now they know the secret. So I like to think that Betty now knows the secret."
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