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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Foundation Honors Skip and Greta Wilday and 2017 Scholarship Recipients

At its tenth annual Friends of the Foundation Luncheon, the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation honored two humble and deserving philanthropists and friends, Ward “Skip” and Greta Wilday, who turned tragedy into a guiding wind for good in the community.

“We were a little concerned when we called [Skip and Greta] that [they] would not accept the award,” CRCF Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit joked to the record crowd of 250. “You two are so humble, but so deserving of this honor.”

There is nothing modest, however, about the impact of the Wildays’ philanthropy and volunteerism.

In presenting them with the honor, Carol Stitt, CRCF board member and past executive director, remembered the day that changed the Wildays’ involvement with CRCF forever.

“Skip and Greta both have been supporters and proponents of CRCF [since the beginning],” Ms. Stitt said. “However, 15 years ago, it became personal. Skip and Greta Wilday experienced a parent’s worst nightmare.

“Their daughter Kaleigh, eight years old, was struck and killed by a drunk driver when she was at the mailbox.”

The very next day, she said, the Wildays decided to establish the Kaleigh Wilday Endowment Fund to carry on Kaleigh’s spirit and provide opportunities for area youth to experience the same activities that Kaleigh had loved.

The Wildays also give generously to a number of other CRCF funds. Skip served as a CRCF board member from its very first days and continues to serve as a committee member.

Both are volunteers and leaders with a number of other community organizations as well. Greta has taught special education for 33, 22 years at Cuba-Rushford Central School. Skip is the Executive Director of Morgan Stanley in Olean.

Accepting the award, Skip said that establishing a fund was an effort to impact the world for good, in just the ways that Kaleigh would have.

In the fifteen years since its establishment, the fund has provided nearly $90,000 in support to 15 local youth organizations and scholarships to students.

Skip also addressed the present scholarship recipients being honored at the event, who he called “future community leaders” and encouraged them chase their dreams and then give back to the community.

It felt very much like a passing of the torch moment as student speaker Luke Rogers encouraged his fellow classmates to embrace the same generous spirit that drives the Wildays.

“No matter what you do in life, please remember and believe that you are privileged, and hopefully in the future going forward you can be privileged enough to help out students like us,” Rogers said to his fellow scholarship recipients.

In 2017 a total of 74 students together received 93 awards from foundation-managed scholarship funds for total of nearly $130,000.

CRCF Board President Wendy Brand also recognized the 14 new funds established at the Foundation since last year’s luncheon. They include:

• Laurie Anzivine Memorial Scholarship – established by members of the Anzivine family

• Elodine Swarts Baxter and Lena Conrad Swarts Memorial Scholarship – established by Norman Baxter

• Albert A. Bennett Jr. Family Scholarship – established by Sue Bennett

• Cattaraugus County Law Enforcement Project Lifesaver and Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Office K9 funds

• Chautauqua Cattaraugus Board of Realtors Scholarship – established by the board of realtors

• Ten Broeck Academy and Franklinville Central School District Scholarship Fund – established by the school district.

• Bob and Barbara Mc Cord Scholarship Fund – Established by the Bob and Barbara McCord Private Foundation

• Roger S. Niemic Memorial Fund – established by Karen Buchheit and her family

• Olean Community Theatre Endowment Fund – established by the Olean Community Theater

• Olean Food Pantry Building Project Fund – established by the Olean Food Pantry • Olean Rotary Club Community Improvement Fund – established by the Olean Rotary Club

• Barby Ried Social Fund – established by Jim and Juanita Ried

• SPCA in Cattaraugus County Agency Fund – established by the SPCA

• Paul and Mary Lou Wood Swim Scholarship – established by Paul and Mary Lou Wood

At the event’s close, Ms. Buchheit encouraged all to use their compass, a favor given out at the nautical-themed luncheon, to guide them to “Grow Good” all throughout the year.

Established in 1994, the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation is growing good by connecting donors to the causes they care about most in the region. Grants from the foundation support many areas, including education, scholarships, health care, the arts, community development, human service, and youth development. To learn more, call (716) 301-CRCF (2723), email foundation@cattfoundation.org, or visit online at www.cattfoundation.org. CRCF is also on Facebook (facebook.com/cattfoundation) and Twitter (@CattFoundation).

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