Fund Name: Spirit Fund, Andy and Carol Hilger Family Fund
Fund Established: March 6, 2002, December 16, 1997
Community Foundation(s): Central Minnesota
Award: Central Minnesota Community Foundation 1999 Alex Didier Award in Philanthropy
Andy and Carol were involved with radio broadcasting for more than 40 years. They owned and ran WJON, WWJO, KMXK and KKJM. After selling the other stations in 1999, the Hilgers donated Spirit 93 to the Diocese of St. Cloud through the Spirit Fund which was established by the Hilgers to support organizations that promote Christian values.
Andy served as a volunteer general manager for Spirit 93 for six years. The station provides a positive alternative for media. It also serves as a venue of pro-life advocates. The “big picture” for the Hilgers is that Spirit 93 be a positive Christian influence in this community for years to come. In 2008, Andy also found time to build and operate KYES, an AM Catholic programming station.
Family life was always important to Hilgers who raised four children. Both Andy and Carol were active in their church. Andy enjoyed golfing and hunting big game in his free time and Carol likes to sew and garden, but most importantly she enjoys serving her family.
Andy died in 2013 at age 83, leaving behind an immeasurable legacy because of the many connections he made.
Andy was one of the original founders of the Central Minnesota Community Foundation and the United Way of Central Minnesota. Andy and Carol were among the first individuals to establish a fund at the Community Foundation and serve as an example of connecting passions with charitable giving.
Andy was honored with many awards for his deep-rooted commitment to giving back, including the Alex Didier Award in Philanthropy in 1999 from CMCF. “I didn’t really know Andy on a personal level until I visited with him about the award,” CMCF President Steve Joul remembers. “In a very personal discussion about his values and his mission of giving back to the community, he talked about the annual spiritual grounding he received through silent retreats he did at the Jesuit retreat house, near the Twin Cities.
It was then he said, ‘You should come along.’“ Steve accepted the invitation. “To know and understand these retreats is to know and understand Andy,” Steve said.
In a quiet and reflective setting, the Jesuits help retreat participants focus on hearing the voice of God in their own lives and discovering the gifts they’ve been given. They believe developing and sharing these gifts is what life is all about.
“Andy certainly knew and understood the wonderful gifts he had been given,” Steve said. Andy had a deep passion for radio and built a successful business in the industry.
“He used his gifts as long as he was able,” Steve said. “Our community is a better place thanks to the generosity of Andy and Carol Hilger.”