Jennifer Berry Whitten has been accused of being a Pollyanna more than once in her lifetime. She believes that a good attitude and optimism are choices, which she thankfully practices on most days. Jennifer’s incredible spirit led her to a career as a school Speech Language Pathologist, and she credits her students for motivating her for the past 27 years. “The kids I work with on a daily basis inspire me in untold ways. We celebrate the big and small milestones every day.”
It is no wonder that Jennifer gravitated toward the National Day Calendar motto of Celebrate Every Day! “It spoke to my nerdy soul!” She loves to make people laugh and has no trouble walking up to strangers to ask, “Do you know what National Day it is?” This open-hearted Ambassador follows joy wherever she goes, a habit which has led her to meet some long-time heroes and lifelong friends, including Louis Zamperini, the subject of the book Unbroken. Jennifer discovered that they shared the same birthday and she celebrated with a phone call each year until Mr. Zamperini’s passing. She also approached Lance Armstrong’s wife backstage at the David Letterman show and after sharing her love for scrapbooking, began creating albums for Lance and his Tour de France wins.
One of Jennifer’s greatest heroes is her father, an orthopedic surgeon, who unknowingly contracted hepatitis from a patient during surgery. Her dad was given three weeks to live until he received a liver transplant that has now given him an extra 35 years. He is one of the 5 longest living liver recipients in the United States. Jennifer does not take this blessing for granted and volunteers with her dad’s group the Southwest Transplant Alliance.
While she credits both of her parents for her positive outlook, we think Jennifer’s attitude of gratitude is what makes Jennifer stand out all on her own. Recently retired, this Ambassador decided to take up the challenge to literally celebrate every day, and her Instagram handle says it all: WhyWaitToCelebrate? Whether it’s giving away donuts to police officers and firefighters on National Donut Day or continuing to work with autistic teens, Jennifer is a dedicated pay it forward spirit that cannot help but walk the walk. “ I have had the most full, wonderful life and I am truly grateful for all of my experiences.”
Jennifer is the personal cheerleader for her fiancé Russ and her grown son, a football coach, and daughter, who owns a jewelry business. If you are lucky enough to meet her on the streets of McKinney, TX go ahead and tell her your favorite National Day. Just be ready for her to grab you by the arm with a “Let’s go celebrate!”