First Donna B Scholarship Recipient

First Donna B Scholarship Recipient
By: Tony Baranek, Daily Southtown

I had a wonderful discussion recently with Hillcrest athletic director Lisa Wunar. It was filled with heart and some humor.

We were talking about how I would describe the work ethic of her former athletic assistant and co-worker Donna Bruton.

I suggested saying that whenever I’d call for Wunar, she was never around. But I always could count on Bruton to answer the phone and track her down for me.

Wunar laughed.

“Well, I don’t know if I’d like it phrased that way,” she said. “But, yes, Donna was always there when you needed her.”

Indeed, she was. And so is Lisa Wunar, one of the most conscientious athletic directors I know.

Burton, who retired three years ago, died in July 2019. 

The main reason we talked was to discuss a truly wonderful event that took place at Hillcrest on July 28.

That afternoon, the first Donna “B” Memorial Scholarship award was given to Hillcrest graduate Kahalia Griffin.

Griffin, who competed for four years on the Hillcrest girls bowling team, received a check for $1,000 that she will use toward her freshman year at Lincoln University in Missouri.

“It really means a lot to me,” Griffin said. “I’m trying to push my goals forward. I really want to be a nurse. Hopefully I’ll use this money to push further and hopefully help everybody around the world.”

And, of course, make Donna Bruton proud.
"I met her as a freshman when I first tried out for girls bowling," Griffin said. "She was in the office and helped me out with the requirements to join.

“She was so nice to me that day. It really left an impression. I’m very proud to receive this in her name.”

The giant-sized check that Griffin received — the real thing is coming later — was presented to her by Bruton’s daughters, Alicia Meeks and Annette Mayo.

They weren’t just posing for the pictures, either. The $1,000 is coming out of their own pockets. That’s mighty impressive, considering both are paying for their kids to go through school.

Meeks and Mayo hope to do some fundraising that will help keep the scholarship alive for years to come. This first one, however, is on them.

It’s a beautiful thing.

“She’s my only sister,” Mayo said. “It’s just the two of us. Anything and everything, especially when it comes to our mom, we’re front and center together.”

Bruton worked at Hillcrest for 24 years. Her official title was administrative assistant for athletics. But somehow that doesn’t quite say it all.

“She was a force at Hillcrest High School,” Wunar said. “Donna did everything. She could multitask, manage, and most important she was a people person. She loved the kids, and she loved the coaches.

“She was like everybody’s grandmother for those kids. She knew which kids needed to be coddled, which kids needed to be fussed at. And the kids loved her. They knew her as Miss B. She was a true Hawk.”

Bruton continued to attend the school’s sporting events after she retired.

“I wanted her memory to live on,” Meeks said. “One thing I found after she died was a sticky note. On it, she said how much she loves the Hillcrest students. She also loved sports, so her job working in the athletic office was perfect for her.

“We thought: What better way is there to honor her than to give back to the people she loved? With this scholarship, we thought, God-willing, it would be a nice thing to do annually.”

Mayo smiled when I asked her what her mom would say about this scholarship being awarded in her name. And she was quick to answer.

“I’m sure she would say, ‘Oh, my God. Oh, my God. For me?’”

Yes, Miss B. It’s for you. With love.