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 > Little League Online > Media > Little League News Archive > 2009 > September - December > The Land of Opportunity: Little League International Presents Eric Hilton with a Proclamation of Appreciation for his Endearing Support

The Land of Opportunity: Little League International Presents Eric Hilton with a Proclamation of Appreciation for his Endearing Support

The Land of Opportunity: Little League International Presents Eric Hilton with a Proclamation of Appreciation for his Endearing Support

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Eric M. Hilton has achieved great success as an hotelier and positively-impacted many lives as a Director of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, yet it is Little League that has been his passion for nearly four decades.

For 35 years, Mr. Hilton has served as a trustee of the Little League Foundation, which was established to stabilize and insure Little League’s future, protect Little League ideals and extend its benefits. During that same time, Mr. Hilton provided the resources from the foundation that bears his father’s name, to afford and provide disadvantaged children with the opportunity to play Little League in cities throughout the United States.

“Eric Hilton respects the responsibility of Little League’s mission and appreciates how it has become a cornerstone for many cities and towns throughout the world,” Stephen D. Keener, Little League International’s President and Chief Executive Officer, said. “The Little League fields that have been completed through the support of the Hilton Foundation are today providing a place for children to enjoy playing Little League and where volunteers support their efforts in a positive and productive learning environment.”

Since the early 1990s, Mr. Hilton, through the auspices of the Hilton Foundation, has provided funding to Little League for the creation and development of Hilton Foundation Fields. These field renovation projects have created places where children and families can enjoy all that the Little League program has to offer. To date, five field projects have been completed, with the sixth in Richmond, Va., to be formally unveiled in time for the 2010 Little League season.

Recently, Mr. Keener and Robert Fleming, Nevada District 2 Administrator and a member of the Little League International Board of Directors, joined Mr. Hilton at the Spanish Trails Country Club in Las Vegas. During their lunch, Mr. Keener and Mr. Fleming surprised Mr. Hilton, who lives in Las Vegas, with a proclamation from the Little League Foundation Trustees and a unique picture book that were created by the Little League International Publications Department. The book highlights Mr. Hilton’s kindness and support on behalf of the Little League program.

“Eric did not know that the proclamation and book were going to be presented to him,” Mr. Fleming said. “He was so humbled and moved that I actually thought he had tears in his eyes. He looked at the pictures in the book slowly, page by page, with great detail and kept remarking, ‘Look at the smiles on those kids faces.’”

Mr. Hilton has contributed significantly to the development, growth and operation of the Hilton Hotels Corporation. His accomplishments in the areas of domestic and international strategic planning and property development led to the continued growth of the company that his father, Conrad N. Hilton, founded more than 75 years ago.

Beginning his professional career in 1949, while still in high school, Mr. Hilton worked as an engineer in the basement of the El Paso (Texas) Hilton and also apprenticed as a bellman, doorman, steward, cook, elevator operator, desk clerk and telephone operator. After nearly 50 years with the company, he retired in 1997 as Vice Chairman of Hilton Hotels Corporation.

Upon graduation from El Paso High School in 1951, Mr. Hilton attended Texas Western College. The Korean War interrupted his college education and he served in the Army as a radar specialist. After being discharged from the service, he continued his hotel career at various Hilton properties throughout the country.

In 1966, Mr. Hilton was promoted to Southwest Sales Manager and subsequently, in 1969, was named Senior Vice President of Hilton Inns, Inc., the company’s franchising division. He remained with Hilton Inns until joining Conrad International in 1983, where he later became President.

Mr. Hilton has been honored with numerous awards, including the Alumni President’s Award and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree, both from the University of Houston.

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Eric Hilton (left) has served as a trust of the Little League Foundation for 35 years. Recently, Stephen D. Keener (right), Little League International’s President and Chief Executive Officer and Robert Fleming (not pictured), a member of the Little League International Board of Directors, presented Mr. Hilton with a proclamation of appreciation from the Little League Foundation Trustees and unique book that illustrated the many field projects he and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation have been a part of over the years.