Barking Ball planner recognized by Obama | ParkRecord.com

Barking Ball planner recognized by Obama

by Andrew Kirk, OF THE RECORD STAFF

To Dana Hilterbrand her dog Diesel is the cutest animal in the world. She adopted him from a shelter in 2004 and his impact on her life inspired Hilterbrand to donate 150 hours last year to raising money for the Friends of Animal Utah.

She was looking for a chocolate Labrador at an adoption fair and he sort of found her. Hilterbrand was standing next to his kennel, patting his head while she looked around. It was obvious he wanted out so she put him on a leash and let him walk around with her. A group of children spotted him and wanted to play. He immediately walked up to one in a wheelchair and put his head in their lap.

"I thought, ‘What a sweet little dog,’" she remembers.

Diesel wasn’t really what she was looking for, but after he won her heart he became adorable to her.

"He’s amazing," she said.

Diesel had been scheduled to be euthanized the very next day.

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Since that day, Hilterbrand has had a special place in her heart for organizations that save animals and give them a better chance at adoption.

She donated 150 hours to the Friends of Animals Utah in 2009 raising $60,000 for the group at one event. Her employer, Qwest, has a policy of supporting their employees’ volunteer efforts and gives grants twice yearly to their organizations. In addition to her own efforts, Qwest gave $1,000 to the group because of her work.

Hilterbrand moved to Park City in 2001 to snowboard. She got involved in Mountain Town Stages and even served a year as vice president of the organization. Loving to plan a party, she applies her engineering background to putting together fundraisers.

"I’m extremely organized I look at a problem and break it into steps like you do in (computer) programming. To pull off events you have to be organized," she explained.

Acquaintances involved in Friends of Animals recruited her to their group and she fell in love with the people and their mission. She took on the Barking Ball and raised the same amount of money as in previous years but with lower overhead.

This is her second year on the board, and as chair of the Barking Ball, she’s getting organized for next year. The event is scheduled for August, but she’s already looking for sponsors, a place to host the event, restaurants to donate appetizers and donated items for live and silent auctions.

"It’s a challenge to pull off a huge event for very little money," she said.

Her efforts last year earned her a President’s Volunteer Service Award from Barack Obama.

According to Mark Molzen, Qwest Communications regional public relations manager, 19 Utah employees earned the distinction in 2009 for donating more than 100 hours.