OLEAN, NY -- The strongest among us turn tragedy into a force for good.

Ward “Skip” and Greta Wilday did exactly that when they established the Kaleigh Wilday Endowment Fund after the tragic passing of their eight-year-old daughter in 2002.

Because of the Wildays’ resolve to preserve Kaleigh’s memory and spirit, countless area youth have been provided incredible opportunities, through the fund’s support of various local organizations involved with youth activity and development.

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The Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation will honor the Wildays’ strength and resolve by presenting them the 2017 Friend of the Foundation Award at the July 13 Friends of the Foundation Luncheon.

CRCF’s Friend of the Foundation Award is the most prestigious award of the organization. It honors a person or persons who have established a fund or funds there and given generously and consistently over the years; an individual who has donated generously to existing funds; and/or someone who continues the Foundation’s mission through giving and volunteerism.

The couple’s kind service to the Foundation and the community extends even beyond the establishment of the Kaleigh Wilday Endowment Fund.

Skip sat on the CRCF board of directors from its earliest days, serving from 1994 to 2016. He remains active as a member of the Foundation’s marketing and donor development committee. He has been instrumental in helping others establish their own funds at the Foundation.

He is also currently a board member of the Cuba Lake Yacht Club, JCC Foundation, Cuba First Baptist Church, Olean Food Pantry and the Gow School in South Wales.

He is past president of the Holimont Ski Club, where he also served the board of directors. He is a past board member of the Olean General Hospital Foundation and Olean YMCA Board of Directors, where he was instrumental in the merger with the Bradford YMCA.

Skip is the Executive Director at Morgan Stanley.

Greta has taught special education in Cincinnati, OH; Belmont; Scio; and Cuba-Rushford for 33 years. Greta works with kindergarten and first grade students in reading and math. She is also an instructor for dyslexic students in grades two through five.

In 2008 the Cuba Chamber of Commerce recognized her as the Educator of the Year.

An active volunteer, Greta teaches vacation Bible school at Cuba First Baptist Church and guides activities for children as a member of the board of Christian education at the church.

She regularly volunteers to chaperone youth at Camp JYC in Franklinville and the Living Waters Canoe Retreat as well as the summer Special Olympics.

She served as a local Girl Scout troop leader for four years as well.

CRCF Board President Wendy Brand shared her pleasure in the board’s decision to honor the Wildays.

"It is certainly fitting that the board of directors chose to honor Skip and Greta with this year's Friends of the Foundation award,” she remarked. “Skip and Greta have been strong supporters from the beginning of the Foundation in 1994, and their endowment fund, established in memory of their daughter, Kaleigh, continues to "grow good" in our community today."

Past recipients of the Friends of the Foundation award include: Ben and Rose Schwabenbauer, the Anastasia/Bihler families (family of Tyler Bihler), Erick and Marianne Laine, Peter Laine, Steve and Donna Teuscher and Jonathan Teuscher Scholarship Committee members, Mildred “Millie” Milliman, John “Jack” and Louise Murphy, Carroll and Dolores Anstaett, Betty Pappas and Russell Hurlburt.

The Foundation will also honor 74 scholarship recipients who together received over 93 awards and almost $130,000.

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).