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Live Like Kelly Foundation

Matt Wilson lights up when he talks about his late wife, Kelly.

“The first thing I always think of is her infectious personality,” said Wilson. “Wherever we went, she was the life of the party. Everyone loved her.”

Those who crossed paths with Kelly were met with her gentle and nurturing nature, thirst for life and mega-watt smile. She was a “Jill” of all trades: a pharmacist at a local Wegmans, an avid “upcycler” who could transform old furniture into trendy décor, a dedicated volunteer at Helping Hounds Dog Rescue and a social butterfly who loved and adored her circle of family and friends.

“And to top it off she was absolutely beautiful,” said Doug Ross, Kelly’s father.

Kelly passed away unexpectedly at the age of 26 after a tragic accident while visiting friends just outside of Buffalo.

“Numerous people came up to us after she passed, presenting us with letters or stories of how Kelly helped them in one way or another,” said Janice Ro ss, Kelly’s mother. “We never met them, but the words written were beautiful.”

After Kelly died, Matt set out to continue her legacy as best he could. He remembers fondly how much she loved her job, but yearned to do something that would have a direct impact on things that she cared deeply about.

“She loved helping people and animals,” said Wilson. “That’s what attracted her to volunteer for Helping Hounds.” 

Wilson chuckled, noting that while Kelly was not usually a morning person, she popped right out of bed on weekend mornings to help walk the dogs. 

With funds raised through events and donations in Kelly’s memory, Wilson established the Live Like Kelly Fundat the Community Foundation. It will be used to fund causes that Kelly would have wanted to support. The fund recently awarded a $50,000 gift to Helping Hounds to put towards the purchase of a new facility.

“This organization has always had this aura and energy around it that amazes me,” said Helping Hounds executive director, Kathy Gilmour. “That energy is amplified now. It feels like Kelly is guiding us not to get lost in the small stuff. Her loss has taught us to always go high, to stay focused on the mission and keep smiling.”

Gilmour says that when Helping Hounds opens its new facility, the adoption area will be named The Kelly Wilson Adoption Center.

“I know she would be excited about that,” said Wilson. “We hope to keep her memory and passion for Helping Hounds and the Central New York community alive.”

Those who wish to support the Live Like Kelly Fund can visit cnycf.org/livelikekelly.