A Hobo Day love story


Sammi Schrag, Agriculture Reporter

Before their wedding at First Lutheran Church, commonly known as Touchdown Jesus, two kids and 33 happy years of marriage, Doug and Donna Wermedal were just two students on the Hobo Day Committee falling in love.

“Back then when you were first on committee, they kidnapped you and all the new committee members were taken into what is now Perkins, which is where I first met Donna,” recalled Doug Wermedal, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs.

For their first year on the committee together in 1983, they were just friends. Thanks to the numerous activities, they really got to know each other during Cavorts, tug of war, the Hobo Day Parade and cheering on the sideline of the football games.

“There were around 30 of us on committee and it was my major activity on campus,” said Wermedal.

Then, in the fall of 1984, a bet was made.  

“I remember very clearly sitting in the basement of the Union with two other friends of mine talking about the girls on the committee,” Wermedal said. “It so happened that we all settled on Donna as the girl we were all interested in. So, we made a bet on who would be the first to ask her out — and I won.”

For their first date, they double-dated to the Steve Martin movie, “A Man with Two Brains.”

“When I picked her up that night, I thought for sure it would be a one date thing because she was so beautiful and way out of my league,” Wermedal said.

Little did he know she’d decide to stick around and there would be multiple phone booth dates in their future. “Sometimes it would take an hour and a half to say goodnight — we just so much enjoyed each other’s company,” Wermedal remembered.

The next fall in 1985, Doug went off to graduate school in Illinois and Donna stayed back and was the third-ever female Pooba. His first time back to campus was for Hobo Day, where he rode in the Bummobile during the paradewith her.

“If I had really been thinking, I would have proposed right there in the Bummobile,” Wermedal said.

A month after Hobo Day, he turned his student loan check into a diamond. Wermedal asked her to marry him on Thanksgiving in the house he grew up in. 

“To this day, the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen is her walking down the aisle. I know that sounds sappy but it’s how I feel,” said Wermedal with a tear in his eye.

His advice for future Jackrabbit couples is to decide who you’re able to be yourself around and who lifts you up.

“I remember thinking I want to have this much fun all the time,” Wermedal said. “So, I sent her a flower and asked if she’d go out with me. I guess I won the bet and I won the girl.”