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Bills owner Wilson donates $1 million to adult care

BUFFALO, N.Y. - The Kaleida Health Foundation today announced a $1 million donation by Ralph and Mary Wilson through the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation to support adult day care and home care in Western New York.

Mary Wilson was on hand to present the gift from the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation to James R. Kaskie, president and CEO of Kaleida Health, at the DeGraff Memorial Hospital Adult Day Care Center in North Tonawanda.

"On behalf of all of the patients we serve, I want to thank the Wilson's for their generosity," said James R. Kaskie, the president and CEO of Kaleida Health. "Their compassion and caring will directly impact our adult day care patients as well as those we serve in home care."

The funding will be used to subsidize the cost of attendance and transportation to the adult day care program. It will also provide funding for programmatic activities and much needed capital purchases such as equipment and supplies. Kaleida Health operates two adult day care centers, in Amherst and North Tonawanda.

The Wilson's donation will also assist Kaleida Health's home care program, the Visiting Nursing Association. The donation will support the patient and caregiver in their home in a variety of ways including the purchasing of "mediplanners," or medication management tools, personal emergency response systems, telehealth monitoring services, plus home safety and falls risk education and programming.

"It is an honor to support Kaleida Health and the tremendous work it does to provide care for the residents of the Buffalo-Niagara region," said Ralph Wilson. We hope to make a positive impact on the quality of people's lives, today, particularly during a time of so much need. Kaleida gives us this opportunity and we look forward to a great partnership with them."

Kaleida Health has been the official health care system of the Buffalo Bills since 2004.

The adult day program is designed to meet the needs of the chronically ill and impaired adult (ages 18 and above) who live in the community. Socialization, assistance with personal care and a wide variety of activities help individuals maintain their independence and promote feelings of self-worth.

Adult day programs offer families an opportunity to take a break from the constant demands of caring for loved ones, who depend on them for assistance with activities of daily living. Individuals attend on a planned basis, which may range from one to five days per week, according to your special needs.

Founded in 1885, the VNA was the first visiting nursing organization in America. Since then, they have become one of the oldest charities in the nation and remain the largest home health agency in the Western New York region. Headquarted on Wehrle Drive in Williamsville, the VNA is a Kaleida Health subsidiary. The VNA offers products and home care services for everyone from newborns to elderly patients. It offers a full range of services including pediatric and adult skilled nursing and therapies, chronic disease management, home infusion therapy, mental health care, obstetrical services, respiratory equipment and care as well as personal response systems.

The VNA provides services to residents in all eight Western New York counties including Erie, Niagara, Orleans, Genesee, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany and Wyoming. The history of the VNA here is rich and deep. According to the Smithsonian Institute, in 1885, Elizabeth Coe Marshall, a Sunday school teacher at the First Presbyterian Church collected funds to hire a nurse to provide free nursing among the sick and poor in the City of Buffalo, thus began the practice of nurses traveling to the homes of the sick, recuperating, and disabled Americans.

Ralph C. Wilson Jr. is most widely known as the owner of the Bills. A National Football League Hall of Fame member, he has been honored with numerous awards, such as the Pete Rozelle Award from the Touchdown Club in New Orleans, the NFL Alumni's "Order of the Leather Helmet" and the "Timmie" Award from the Touchdown Club of Washington D.C. He also received the inaugural Lamar Hunt Award for Professional Football and was only the fourth owner to receive the Francis J. (Reds) Bagnell Award for Contributions to the Game of Football.

For his tremendous charitable efforts in the Buffalo area over the years, Mr. Wilson was named the Seymour Knox III Humanitarian Award winner in the spring of 2003 and in 2007 he was named the Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year by the WNY Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Also in 2007, he and his wife, Mary, were named the Philanthropists of the Year by the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County.

Beyond the football field, Wilson's philanthropic arm reaches across the country. In 1999, Mr. Wilson established the Ralph Wilson Medical Research Foundation which contributed over $11,000,000 to support medical research. Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo is one of the Foundation's five partner institutions.

He has also long been recognized for his diverse and generous charitable endeavors that include such beneficiaries as the food banks of Buffalo and Rochester, the Ronald McDonald House, Canisius College, the United Way, S.P.C.A., the Buffalo Philharmonic, Shea's Performing Arts Center, and the Hospice Center of WNY.

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