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Conversations with the Inspiring Hilda M. Gradnigo

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hilda M. Gradnigo.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Hilda. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
On May 17, 2018 my life changed forever and I didn’t want to embrace my new normal. My sister who was my best friend, my biggest fan, and my prayer partner passed away from cancer. To say we were joined at the hip was an understatement. Through her journey, we did everything together: doctor’s visits, hospital stays, and picking out wigs to name a few. I never once had the thought that she would die.

​My sister, Luevenia Marcel Lewis (affectionately known as “Lulu”) had a 20-year battle with cancer. She was an inspiration to all who knew her. Through her tenacity to count it all joy, She decided early in her journey that she would not live with cancer, but live “in-spite-of.” She lost her battle with cancer but won the battle to believe God that when “life happens” you can still Live Out Loud, Love Out Loud, and Laugh Out Loud in the way that shares a gift of hope for others.

We all know that it is not what happens to you in life that matters, but how you respond to what happens ​that does.

My sister lived deliberately with purpose and significance through her faith to be the best daughter, wife, mother, sister and friend. She was known for doing things her way because her way represented His way. Her presence was simply medicine to our souls, spirits, and minds.

Her tenacity and fight inspired me to inspire others that they too can keep moving and emerge like a beautiful butterfly. It is our hope that through the spirit of LueWish, we can continue to inspire hope in other women when “life happens” through wishes, resources and a community of care.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
My biggest struggle has been believing in myself. My sister always made me feel like I could do anything. To know my sister and me is to know that we strive for excellence. We always said if we were not going to do it well, we would not do it at all. Starting LueWish was a huge faith journey for me. My biggest hurdle being to believe I could do this, yet  every time I took a step, God took two. Every time I leaped, He caught me. Whenever there was uncertainty, He provided direction. My biggest lesson was realizing that all the resources I needed was found in my relationships. Things that I would have had to pay for came as offerings and gifts to me because I had sown into others dreams and visions.

So what advice would I give.
1. Believe in yourself. You will only know what you can do by doing it.
2. Nurture the right relationships. Every relationship does not heed a return in the beginning, however, every seed will always produce a harvest.
3. Rome was not built in a day and neither will your dream; however, Rome was built with consistency and commitment.
4. Keep a journal. You will be able to encourage yourself when things are not going well by reading about those times you found yourself where you are right now.

What should we know about LueWish? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
LueWish grants wishes to women who are experiencing cancer and other life altering issues like heart disease and domestic violence. We inspire women to live, love and laugh out loud in spite of.

Wishes are granted in the forms of:

1. Monetary donations
2. Partnerships
3. Spot wishes
4. Resources
5. Community of Care

We are known for our willingness to find creative ways to create a memory for women who are experiencing life altering issues. We are building a reputation of giving back through partnerships with other institutions that are making a difference for women.

We are most proud of what we have accomplished in our first year:

1. Our Comprehensive and Committed Board of Directors
2. Our Unveiling and Launch
3. Granting four wishes
4. Guest on four network news channel
5. Delivering over ten spot wishes
6. Being a partner with others who are making an impact.
7. Planning our 1st Annual Fundraiser –  Kentucky Derby Day Party – May 2020
8. Planning our first women’s gathering – The Bare Essentials for Women Only November 2020.

What sets us apart from other organizations?

We are building a community of care. Once we connect with a woman, she is a part of our community and we seek to be there for her. Sometimes people just want to know there is someone who is thinking of them, which is why in 2020 we will begin our “LueSisters” Network. This network will engage, equip, and empower women through their life-altering issues. We also believe in the power of partnerships and the vast opportunities they provide for our network. I like to say it is better to collaborate than compete. When we do, we find that together our offerings are stronger and better.

Do you have any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general? What has worked well for you?
Mentoring is definitely important. I find mentors who are doing well in the areas I want to do well. If it is leading, then find a good, effective leader. If it is time management, then find someone who is very organized.

Networking is not an option. You can have the best product or idea but if no one knows about it then that is all it is. Networking allows you the opportunities to share and take your offering into places you could have never dreamed.

I have always been a people person. I love hearing people’s stories. So many of my relationships started out of my desire to hear their story. Learning people’s names is essential as well.

Lastly, follow up follow up follow up! Never assume.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 6140 Highway 6
    Suite 183
    Misso​uri City, TX 77459



Image Credit:

me and Elroy McDaniel

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