OLEAN — Ellicottville is a place beloved by the Wilday family.

It is also a place that was important to young Kaleigh Wilday during her life.

The Wildays are avid skiers and outdoor adventurers and spend much of their time during the winter months in Ellicottville, and according to Skip Wilday and Greta Wilday, that time spent in Ellicottville has led to deep relationships that have lasted over the years.

When Kaleigh Wilday tragically passed away in 2002, support for the fund that Skip and Greta established to honor the legacy of their daughter, the Kaleigh Wilday Endowment Fund at the Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation, came from long and far, but a significant part of that support, then and now, came from Ellicottville, said Skip Wilday.

In honor of that early and lasting support of the Ellicottville community, this year’s grant distributions from the Kaleigh Wilday Fund, made every year around Kaleigh’s birthday, Nov. 10, will provide support to community organizations that support recreation and youth, this year with an added focus on organizations in the Ellicottville community.

This year’s grants include: $1,000 for the Cuba-Rushford PTA, $1,000 for the Cuba-Rushford Central School Alaska Trip Fund (CRCS Outdoors), $1,000 for the youth programs at the Cuba Circulating Library, $2,000 for the Kaleigh Wilday Every Kid Deserves a Y Fund at the YMCA of the Twin Tiers and $500 to sponsor a Cattaraugus Gives prize for an organization that serves youth.

Additionally, the fund will make possible three new grants for organizations in Ellicottville: $1,000 for the Ellicottville Skate Park Fund, $1,000 for the Ellicottville/Great Valley Recreational Trail Fund and $200 to the Nannen Arboretum Society.

This year’s grants total $7,700.

The fund also supports two annual scholarships: the Kaleigh Wilday Scholar Athlete Award for a Cuba-Rushford Central School graduating senior who has played on a scholar-athlete team and an annual $1,000 scholarship for a Cuba-Rushford graduate attending Jamestown Community College.

For Skip and Greta Wilday, who recommend each year’s grant recipients, this year’s grants represent a very special tribute to the Ellicottville community.

“This felt like an important thing to do this year,” said Skip Wilday. “Ellicottville is an important place for us, of course, and it was a place where Kaleigh spent a lot of time.

“From the very first days of the fund, so much support came from Ellicottville that it feels only right to give back to causes that we know Kaleigh would have loved,” he added.

The Ellicottville/Great Valley Recreational Trail Fund at CRCF supports the efforts to build a recreational trail that will connect locations in Ellicottville and Great Valley. The first section of the trail was cleared in 2019.

The Ellicottville Skate Park Fund, also managed by CRCF, supports fundraising efforts to build and maintain a large, concrete skate park in Ellicottville. With the support of the Tony Hawk Foundation and Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, SK8EVL is now entering the final stages of their fundraising efforts.

Thanks to a matching grant from the Tony Hawk Foundation, the entirety of this grant from the Wilday Fund will be matched.

The Nannen Arboretum provides home garden and natural resource education and an opportunity for nature appreciation and leisure for Ellicottville residents.

CRCF Executive Director Karen Niemic Buchheit praised the Wildays’ caring tribute to the Ellicottville community.

“Skip and Greta are incredibly caring people, and it is an honor to work with them in managing the Kaleigh Wilday Endowment Fund,” said Buchheit. “They are always looking to give back, and all of these grants, including the new grants support efforts that provide important avenues for youth enrichment and activity.”

Since the fund’s beginning, the Wilday Fund at CRCF has made possible over $126,000 in grants and scholarship awards.

Donations can be made to the Kaleigh Wilday Endowment Fund at CRCF, 301 N. Union St., Olean, NY 14760 or online at cattfoundation.org.

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