It was her connection to a wish family, a friend's daughter benefited from a trip to Milan during fashion week, that first peaked Donna’s interest in Make-A-Wish Arizona.
“I knew that when I retired, I wanted to do something that was bigger than me, I had to have something that would give me purpose,” said Hilton. “I knew how difficult the cancer diagnosis was for my friend’s family and I could see that, even though the daughter was still going through treatment, having her wish to think about and to plan for was making a difference.”
Donna connected with volunteer wish granter, Richard Johnston, at a celebration of the daughter’s one-year anniversary of being cancer free. Richard spoke about what it meant to be a wish granter and Hilton knew she had found her purpose.
“After retiring in 2013, I completed wish granter training and have been granting wishes ever since,” Hilton said.
To date, she has granted 25 wishes in the Southern Region of Arizona.
Richard was her first wish granting partner, but after he transferred out of state, she connected with friend Kimberly Cossette. Because of Donna's enthusiasm, Kimberly was eager to begin volunteering with her.
“Kimberly and I look at the Wish Wednesday list every week. If any kids have been added in our area, we jump on them immediately,” said Hilton.
“Each experience is a little different,” she continued. “Some kids have a clear idea of their wish, others take their time. But one thing for sure, they're all special!”
Donna’s favorite part of wish granting is the connections she makes with wish kids and their families, not only during the wish granting process, but long after.
“I enjoy Facebook and so many families have asked to connect, I love that I continue to see them even after their wishes have been granted,” said Hilton.
“To see a family grow and benefit from a wish experience – it was just the type of purpose I was looking for after I retired. Making a difference in the life of a child, to be a part of a wish kid and a wish family’s excitement, is really what wish granting is all about.”