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Kaleigh Wilday Fund grants support infant safety, other local youth causes

Thu, Nov 21st 2019 09:00 am

In 2002, Skip and Greta Wilday decided to establish an endowment fund at the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation that would give support youth development and enrichment in memory of their daughter, Kaleigh.

That fund has done just that in the 17 years since, and this year is supporting the purchase of a high-tech, medically advanced warming bed for infants born at Olean General Hospital.

The idea for the grant came when Skip Wilday was discussing areas of need at the Olean General Hospital Foundation and it was mentioned the goal of purchasing new infant warming beds.

“I think it falls in line with the mission of the fund,” Wilday said. “The hospital is such a vital part of the community, especially the maternity ward. It is so important that we care for the most precious patients, our newborns, our future. They need to have the best equipment they can to be able to attend to our children.”

The new warming beds provide a nurturing, life-sustaining environment for infants, especially when a child is sick, and makes the work of maternity ward nurses much easier.

The beds are much more important than just keeping the newborns warm. Amongst many clinical advantages the new technology helps monitor and regulate oxygen levels, monitors a baby’s weight without having to disturb them and even is equipped with special lights to treat jaundice without ever having to move a child. The new design allows for room for physicians to handle any child quickly in the case of a medical emergency.

The beds provide a much updated model and improve the quality of care in the maternity ward, but that comes at a cost. The units cost is $23,000 a piece, making the support of donations and grants like the Wildays so important.

“We are honored and beyond grateful that the Wildays elected the Kaleigh Wilday fund to support a warming bed at the Olean General Hospital,” said Steve Jackson, president of the Olean General Hospital Foundation. “Philanthropy to local health care is so important and needed more today than ever before.  From the bottom of our hearts we thank the Wildays and CRF for what they do to make our surrounding communities a wonderful place to live and raise a family.”

In addition to the $1,000 grant to the Olean General Hospital Foundation, the Wilday fund made possible five other grants which include those to the Cuba-Rushford Central School Alaska Fund, Cuba Circulating Library, Cuba-Rushford PTA, Dresser-Rand Challenger Learning Center and to the Kaleigh Wilday Every Kid Deserves a Y Fund at the YMCA of the Twin Tiers, each of $1,000.

In total, the fund has made possible just short of $125,000 in grants and scholarships that support area youth.

“The Foundation has meant so much to us to keep Kaleigh’s memory alive and to help organizations that are vital to our community and help children,” said Wilday. “Even if she’s not here in body, she is here in spirit.”

CRCF Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit stressed the impact that the Wilday Fund has had on the community.

“The Wilday Fund has been an integral part of the foundation’s identity over our 25-year history, and every year it continues to inspire us to take on the Wildays’ resolve and desire to give back, even in the face of tragic circumstances,” she said.

“The community foundation has done so much for the area,” said Wilday. “We are fortunate that this fund has been a big part of that.

Donations can be made to the Kaleigh Wilday Endowment Fund at CRCF, 301 North Union St., Suite 203, or online at cattfoundation.org.

For 25 years, the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation has been the area’s supportive, responsive and trusted community foundation. Established in 1994, CRCF 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 [email protected], or visit online at www.cattfoundation.org. CRCF is also on Facebook (facebook.com/cattfoundation) and Twitter (@CattFoundation).