79-year-old Veteran Donald Silliphant Fulfills His Wish to Fly in a Goodyear Blimp

Posted on 12/20/22 by Yusuf Rahman

A veteran, firefighter, and teacher. For Donald Silliphant, there are few things more important than fighting for the people around him.

Donald began his career in the Army in 1962, serving as a paratrooper in the Vietnam War. After his military career, he became a firefighter and worked for more than 20 years, until he suffered an injury falling through a roof while fighting a fire. But his goal of giving back to his community didn’t end there. He switched careers and became a high school teacher for the next 16 years, coaching students in sports and creating a positive culture for young people going through tough times. At age 63, Donald was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Despite the challenges of his diagnosis, his dedication to service never faltered.

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Donald served as a paratrooper during the Vietnam War.

As a lifelong sports enthusiast, Donald has always believed in the power of sports in bringing people together. From a young age, he dreamed of looking at the world from the Goodyear Blimp he would see floating in the sky during his favorite sporting matches.

This is where Wish of a Lifetime stepped in. After hearing Donald’s story, Wish of a Lifetime invited him to fly in the Goodyear Blimp and get a 360-degree glimpse of Southern California. Donald was ecstatic to hear about this once in a lifetime opportunity and was even further surprised when he was greeted by countless AARP California volunteers cheering him on as he embarked on his adventure.

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AARP California volunteers cheered Donald on as he got to fulfill his wish.

Taking in the view from the air, Donald fondly remembered his days as a paratrooper. He commented, “I was really kind of stunned. It was so much more than I anticipated. It is going to stay with me for a long time.”

Donald continued. "Sometimes it takes a second look at life to know what things mean or represent,” he said. “Getting a birds-eye view of my world and everyone in it that makes my life easier was invigorating and left me feeling hopeful.”

Want to help fulfill someone’s lifelong wish? Visit https://wishofalifetime.org/ to learn more about Wish of a Lifetime and how you can make a submission.  

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