Lifetime Giving by Hilton Family to the Society Has Surpassed $25 Million
Growing up, Steve Hilton had the best mother anyone could ask for. She was high-energy, loving, encouraging, and enjoyed having lots of kids hanging out in their house. Steve reached adulthood with a collection of sweet memories in which his beloved mother played a central role.
When Steve was in his mid-30s, his mother Marilyn was diagnosed with MS and began a gradual decline in her health over many years.
Seeing his mom eventually need help walking, and then have to move into a wheelchair was tough for Steve and his family members. In spite of her change in mobility though, his mother managed to always have a very positive attitude—one of the qualities he admired about her most.
Steve’s father—Barron Hilton—former CEO of Hilton Hotels Corporation and chairman emeritus of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation saw firsthand how MS affected his wife, Marilyn. The family’s experience opened their hearts to every family affected by MS. He realized that his family was fortunate to have nursing care and helpers but sympathized with how difficult it must be for those families that don’t have the same type of financial means. It moved him, and the other members of the family, to want to help others by supporting the National MS Society.
The Hiltons' history of philanthropy began in 1944 when Steve’s grandfather Conrad Hilton started the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. When Conrad passed away, he left his entire estate to the Foundation, with a beautiful mission mandate to support the most vulnerable people. The Foundation’s first gift to the National MS Society happened in 1957 and was for $250, before Marilyn was diagnosed with MS. Since that modest first gift, their contributions have grown exponentially.
In the last six decades, the family has supported the MS movement generously, through gifts from the Hilton Foundation, and recently, $27 million from Barron Hilton personally to the National MS Society in honor of his wife. Sadly, Barron passed away in September, but with a powerful, lasting legacy to the MS movement. His generosity created the Marilyn Hilton MS Achievement Center at UCLA and is empowering people to live powerfully by providing them with education, connection and wellness opportunities, as well as the Marilyn Hilton MS Research Fund which invests in key research initiatives to move us closer to a cure.
“Many of the researchers that the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has funded over the years have helped to create new therapies that do make a difference in the lives of people with MS,” Hilton said. “The gift that my dad recently made to create the Marilyn Hilton Achievement Center at UCLA, will also help those with MS, by giving them access to physical therapy, yoga, art therapy and other programs that will allow them to have a healthy lifestyle.”
As the current Chair of the Conrad Hilton Foundation, Steve hopes that someday researchers will be able to find a cure for most people with MS. His family’s contributions toward making this happen, have culminated in the largest single gift ever
to the Society.
With Barron Hilton’s giving having surpassed $27 million, he was honored with the prestigious Founder’s Circle award at this year’s Society Leadership Conference. The Hilton family’s inspiring leadership has not only provided a fitting and heart-warming legacy for their matriarch Marilyn Hilton but has also greatly improved the lives of people with MS and helped to pave the path toward a cure.
Learn more about the Hilton family’s lasting legacy to the MS movement by watching this powerful video: https://youtu.be/OajubZzyta0