The 10th Anniversary LDP Tailgate – By Breanna Whitley

     The LDP Tailgate is a special event dedicated to celebrating the sponsors’ commitment to the success of our members. It gives students the opportunity to connect with sponsors and LDP alumni in an informal environment permeated with friendship, gratitude, and reflection. With the tailgate being one of the biggest events during the school year, it also proved to be one of the most challenging. When I was first assigned the Tailgate at the beginning of the semester, I was hesitant about leading such an important project that had so much room for error. Although as the planning process began, I realized the opportunities for error were equivalent to the opportunities for success. When I realized how rewarding this project could be, I knew it was imperative to achieve that success and show the sponsors how our team can accomplish anything together.

In the weeks prior to the event, almost every moment of free time between work and school was dedicated to tailgate planning. Luckily, I had incredible support from some tailgate pros such as my mentor Olivia Taitt, Dr. DeRuntz, Liz DeRuntz, and Jennifer Langin of the Dean’s office. These individuals supported me throughout the entire process, from the initial game plan all the way to Saluki kickoff.
The best aspect of the tailgate was the astonishing effort demonstrated by the LDP members. All the weeks of planning would have been fruitless if I was not supported by such a dedicated and determined team as ours. In one of our meetings, Dr. DeRuntz asked me what our wow-factor would be, and my first response only touched the surface: attention to detail, smooth transitions, and so on. Dr. DeRuntz provided deeper insight, reminding me the wow-factor was us –the members– the impressions we make on the sponsors and guests, and how we execute the projects. During tailgate, as the guests and sponsors gave us positive feedback, I knew Dr. DeRuntz was right. The success of tailgate wasn’t about the cookies, the keg, or the flower arrangements; it was about the cohesion of our team, our commitment to supporting each other, and our commitment to our shared values.

     The 10th Anniversary LDP Tailgate was an experience that I will remember for a life time. It was wonderful to meet our sponsors, alumni, and the friends and families of current LDP members. Although, the memory that has and will continue to impact me the most, is the immense support I received from my teammates. I am incredibly grateful to serve alongside such extraordinary people.