By Bob Peryea
First Lady Tonette Walker visited Lake Geneva on Friday to present one of Walworth County’s most active fundraisers, Kevin Paluch, with the Wisconsin Heroes Award.
Paluch is the Chief Operating Officer of Geneva National Golf Club and the founder of the Geneva National Foundation.
Through the effort of the Geneva National Foundation, Paluch and dozens of other volunteers have donated over $1.55 million to Walworth County tragedies according to the foundation.
SMILES, a therapeutic horse riding charity, has been able to become a year round facility, allowing disabled citizens to ride and enjoy the company of horses.
“I want to give you this on behalf of the people of Wisconsin. We are proud to have you in Wisconsin.” Walker said.
After receiving his award, Paluch looked around the room at everyone assembled including family, friends and co-workers and said, “It’s for everyone in this room and you all know it.”
The foundation was created in 2005 by Paluch to assist the special needs community of Walworth County. Prior to that, the charitable work was done under the auspices of Geneva National. A 501(c) 3 charity, the organization hosts an annual golf outing called the Lifelong Empowerment Open (L.E.O.). Since 2007, the L.E.O. has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity according to foundation officials.
In 2012, the L.E.O. hosted 320 golfers and 520 people for dinner. It raised $126,000 for four organizations serving special needs Walworth County residents. The event combined with the Push-Walk-Ride event raised more than $141,000.
The 2013 L.E.O. is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 16. This year’s focus will be to gather funds for an “inclusive park” where people with every ability level can play together and get to know and understand each other.
The Geneva National Foundation supports Lakeland School, Inspiration Ministries and the Autism Support Fund. The organization had previously assisted VIP Services.
In speaking of the county, Paluch said, “I don’t think you can find another county or city of 100,000 people with so many supports for citizens with special needs. We have VIP Services, Inspiration Ministries, Lakeland School and Inspiration Ministries working for these folks. We have the Wisconsin School for the Deaf that serves some amazing people. It’s just amazing.”
The First Lady gives the Wisconsin Heroes award out monthly to people around the state who are nominated by friends and others. It is designed to recognize the efforts of those who “go the extra mile” in Wisconsin.
Co-workers, other volunteers and board members with the Geneva National Foundation nominated Paluch.
Interested parties are invited to donate or volunteer with the Geneva National Foundation at http://genevanationalfounation.org or call 262-245-7310.