You’re not alone. Seriously, starting something from scratch is one of the most isolating experiences you can face. You just need to remember that there’s at least one person who wants you to succeed! Can’t think of anyone? Send me an email, I’ll prove you wrong.
As part of our series about young people who are making an important social impact, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dillon Hill.
Dillon Hill runs Live For Another, an organization all about helping other people in creative ways, like buying 11 billboards to help a Stage 4 cancer patient achieve her dream of being on Ellen. Dillon’s goal is to use the power of the internet to help people discover how they can have a positive impact on the world. Join the community at www.liveforanother.com
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us about how you grew up?
I grew up in Northern California, where I have lived my whole life. One of my bigger challenges was being born without vision in my right eye, which meant a whole lot of trying to fix my vision. Long story short, I ran into a LOT of walls. Other than that, I was very fortunate to have parents that worked their butt off to provide a comfortable life for my brother and I.
In 5th grade, my childhood best friend was diagnosed with cancer, which started me on a road to helping others.
Is there a particular book or organization that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Recursion by Blake Crouch is my favorite book of all time! It’s a sci-fi book about using memories to travel through time, which makes for some awesome action! The best part, though, is the discussion of how often we obsess over old memories. We wish we could change the bad ones or relive the good ones…
This book explains why memories are so special because we CAN’T relive them, something that inspires me to appreciate every moment as a once in a lifetime opportunity.
You are currently leading an organization that is helping to make a positive social impact. Can you tell us a little about what you and your organization are trying to create in our world today?
With the world as crazy as it is these days, there are a lot of people developing amazing ways to help other people…that is awesome! However, the average person might see those kinds of actions as unachievable. I call it the Mr. Rogers affect. There are certain people in this world that do such a good job of being kind that it seems impossible to emulate, but I believe everyone has the capacity! So, we make content that inspires people to do just that!
We hope that by showing our efforts to help others our audience will be inspired to do the same. The best example is one of our most recent Kindness Projects, ‘The Children’s Hospital Road Trip’. More on that later 😊
Can you tell us the backstory about what originally inspired you to feel passionate about this cause and to do something about it?
As I mentioned earlier, my close friend was diagnosed with cancer at a young age. As a kid, I remember spending a BUNCH of time with him in the hospital. At the time it felt like a great excuse to play video games all day, but once I was in high-school I realized how important that experience was for me… by simply being there for my friend, I made his day that much brighter! Luckily, he beat that first fight with cancer.
Fast forward to Junior year of high school, where I decided to start a non-profit organization based on that experience! I Googled the paperwork, sent it to the IRS, then started going door-to-door to fundraise! Our goal was to bring video games to kids in the hospital, and it worked!
I run that organization to this day, but things got a little crazy during my third year of college! My childhood friend called me to tell me the cancer was back, but this time he was given a terminal diagnosis of one year. That news spooked me quite a bit, so I decided to drop out of college and do everything I possibly could to make his bucket list dreams a reality.
That decision led to a documentary about our friendship, which went super viral! Long story short, the internet made our entire bucket list possible, including our world record attempt to break the world’s biggest bone marrow donation drive. Our community inspired over 13,000 people to sign up to donate bone marrow…one of those people being the donor that would end up saving my best friend’s life!
Both experiences helped me realized that helping other people can make life pretty darn awesome!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
I think the best story about our organization isThe Children’s Hospital Road Trip. Having visited children’s hospitals since high school, I’ve received a lot of praise from people! Of course, I was appreciative that they looked up to me, but I was also a bit frustrated. I wanted everyone to see that THEY have the same capacity to help others that I do. So, we set out to make a documentary to prove it.
We packed up 15 suitcases full of video game consoles, then went on a cross country road trip to donate them all! The twist? We asked our audience to send us an email if they wanted to participate! That meant every city we stopped in we were joined by one of our viewers, then we would donate together! Oh, and to really prove how easy it is to help kids we did it ALL in just 7 days.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
After the story of my best friend went viral, I knew that I wanted to commit to helping other people. Unfortunately, I wasn’t exactly sure how… That’s where Lexi comes in! I saw a picture of on Reddit. She was in the hospital battling cancer on her 21st birthday yet still had a huge smile on her face!
I sent her a very awkward message asking if I could help make her bucket list possible. I warned her that I had NO idea what I was doing, but I promised to try my best. Luckily, she was willing and excited to join me! Together we learned so much about what would later become Live For Another.
Thanks for believing in me Lexi!
How do you define “Making A Difference”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Making a difference is as simple as considering how your actions might affect someone else. I think the world would be a much better place if we all tried to practice more empathy (myself included)!
Many young people would not know what steps to take to start to create the change they want to see. But you did. What are some of the steps you took to get your project started? Can you share the top 5 things you need to know to become a changemaker? Please tell us a story or example for each.
- You are going to mess up. Seriously, I made a LOT of mistakes when I first started. At one point I wanted to volunteer at an assisted living facility, but I had the not-so-bright idea of bringing Rock Band (the video game). Turns out elderly people don’t like to sing heavy metal music!
- You’re doing enough. Social media makes it so easy to compare ourselves to other people, but if you don’t keep those expectations in-check you might start to believe that your actions aren’t making a difference. They absolutely are! I fall victim to this every day.
- Do it your own way. You don’t have to follow the traditional path! Do things that excite you, not other people. It will make it easier for you to stay committed.
- It’s okay to be selfish. There’s a big misconception that helping other people should be 100% in benefit of the other person. I don’t think that is true at all! If you feel good about volunteering, that’s okay! No one is capable of being Mr. Rogers all the time, not even Mr. Rogers!
- You’re not alone. Seriously, starting something from scratch is one of the most isolating experiences you can face. You just need to remember that there’s at least one person who wants you to succeed! Can’t think of anyone? Send me an email, I’ll prove you wrong.
What are the values that drive your work?
I just want people to be the best version of themselves. I hope that by working hard people will feel inspired to make the difficult first step.
Many people struggle to find what their purpose is and how to stay true to what they believe in. What are some tools or daily practices that have helped you to stay grounded and centred in who you are, your purpose, and focused on achieving your vision?
I’ve learned that there are a LOT of people claiming to know the best way to stay focused, avoid stress, work harder, etc. The biggest tool I’ve developed is being able to filter out the advice that makes sense for me! For example, some blog post out there might say to take a cold shower right after waking up. Uhhhh, no thanks!
I keep a list of interesting ideas to try whenever I feel off my game, then refer to it when I need a booster. Maybe sometimes the answer is to the lift weights, maybe it’s to watch a movie. Everyday is different, so this helps me adapt to whatever struggle I’m having.
In my work, I aim to challenge us all right now to take back our human story and co-create a vision for a world that works for all. I believe youth should have agency over their own future. Can you please share your vision for a world you want to see? I’d love to have you describe what it looks like and feels like. As you know, the more we can imagine it, the better we can manifest it!
I see where a world where 100% of people hold the door for others. There are so many small acts of kindness that we COULD be doing for each other, but we don’t. I want more of that.
We are powerful co-creators and our minds and intentions create our reality. If you had limitless resources at your disposal, what specific steps would take to bring your vision to fruition?
I have a TON of ideas that are limited by financial resources. The first one I would do is build the World’s Tallest Trashcan, which we have drafted as 3 stories tall. Then, I’d bring the community together to fill it!
Yea, I have pretty strange ideas…
I see a world driven by the power of love, not fear. Where human beings treat each other with humanity. Where compassion, kindness and generosity of spirit are characteristics we teach in schools and strive to embody in all we do. What changes would you like to see in the educational system? Can you explain or give an example?
I haven’t spent enough time thinking about this to give a good answer, honestly. I don’t think it’s possible to teach compassion, but maybe we can provide more examples to our youth!
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
Life’s hard, but kindness makes it easier for everyone.
Is there a person in the world with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Jon Favreau. I really respect his talent and attitude.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Join the community at www.liveforanother.com
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!