By Amanda Schiavo
“Lately, as I’m getting older, I find that it is great to challenge myself,” said the energetic Marie Ludwig, a 1983 journalism graduate.
Ludwig is currently splitting time in her career between partnering a “thriving” catering business in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, guest hosting as a kitchen expert on QVC in West Chester, Pennsylvania, and serving as the CEO of the 501c3 non-profit organization Stephanie’s House.
“Back in 1983, when I graduated from BGSU, I went straight from graduation ceremonies to a job at Cedar Point working as a marketing intern for the summer,” Ludwig said.
After spending three summers with Cedar Point as an intern, Ludwig realized her opportunity for a full-time position was not likely and decided to embark on her next adventure.
A year later, Ludwig landed a toy designing position with Those Characters from Cleveland, a division of American Greetings in Cleveland.
“I worked with some of the most talented individuals in the toy industry as a creative copy writer, giving names, stories and words to some of the most famous characters in toy history – Care Bears, Popples, Holly Hobby, Strawberry Shortcake and more,” Ludwig said.
However, she soon relocated to Philadelphia with her first husband in 1986.
In Philadelphia, Ludwig did freelance advertising work for American Greetings as a greeting card writer for three years until the birth of her first son, Ryan.
Ludwig’s personal career journey was halted when Ryan was diagnosed with complex congenital heart disease and numerous other medical issues.
“I spent the next three years in and out of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia working hard to keep him alive,” Ludwig said.
Ludwig gave birth to her second child, a daughter named Stephanie, in 1992.
Nicholas, Ludwig’s youngest son, was born in 1994, which was the same year Stephanie was diagnosed with autism.
Ludwig was a stay-at-home mom until 1997, waitressing on the weekends to provide for the wellness of her children.
Little did Ludwig know that her weekend waitressing job would provide her with more than the experience in and out of the kitchen.
“In 1993, one evening she came in looking for a part-time waitress position,” said Andy Ludwig, Ludwig’s second husband.
Andy was the general manager for the inn where Ludwig applied to be a part-time waitress.
“She was a great employee, despite all of her challenges at home, she always came in with a smile on her face and a lot of energy,” he said.
Ludwig eventually left the inn where she began waitressing to fulfill a general manager position for one of the biggest restaurant companies on the East Coast.
“I kept working on my foodie abilities until one day I got the chance to audition to be a guest (something new) on QVC,” Ludwig said.
Ludwig was hired to represent QVC on Dec. 5, 2000 and sold over 10,000 units of a Zyliss food chopper in 8 minutes.
Ludwig’s career path was back on track and going quite well after being hired by QVC in 2000.
“The experience on QVC has landed me some great friends and contacts so I have been able to do a lot of TV work, which I love,” Ludwig said.
Ludwig started Stephanie’s House in 2009, a 501c3 non-profit organization, with a mission to create life homes for adults with autism.
In 2010, Ludwig married Andy and became a partner in his catering business as well.
Although Ludwig has kept herself busy over the years, her passion for what she loves and does has not weakened.
Director of Student Media Bob Bortel, who was an adviser to The BG News while Ludwig attended BGSU, said Ludwig has always demonstrated a positive attitude when it came to her work.
“She has a way of transmitting her own personal excitement to those around her,” Bortel said.
Both Ludwig and Bortel understand the amount of commitment and love that goes into caring for a child with special needs.
Bortel spoke highly of the accomplishments Ludwig’s Stephanie’s House has made.
In October 2013, Stephanie’s House raised enough money to purchase Stephanie’s childhood home and took 10 months to renovate into a place for adults with autism to live.
Ludwig was adamant about sharing one last life lesson.
“Make the decision that makes you happy,” she said. “Don’t worry about anyone else.”