Sunday, Jan. 8, 10 a.m., St. Xavier High School
Like many college students, David Wiltse spent a semester studying in France while attending the University of Notre Dame. That experience led him to the slums of Madagascar the following summer, where he worked with the poorest of the poor.
In Madagascar, more than a third of the people are illiterate, and most live on less than $2 a day. The island nation off the southeastern coast of Africa ranks as the sixth-poorest country in the world.
When Wiltse returned home after his summer of service, he told his mother, Ginny Ruehlmann Wiltse, he felt called to do something more to help.
Together, the two launched the Caring Response Madagascar Foundation, which for 15 years has collaborated with existing missionary and relief efforts to serves the poor in Madagascar. They have raised more than $1.4 million since 2001, with approximately 97 percent going directly to education, medical, and humanitarian aid projects.
In addition, they have inspired faithful volunteers to provide uncompensated service hours valued at more than $1 million, including volunteer medical teams who travel to the island on a regular basis to provide medical education and clinic visits.
Next weekend, the Notre Dame Club of Greater Cincinnati will present its Exemplar Award to the mother-and-son team.
The award will be presented at the club’s annual Family Mass and Brunch, which is open to the public. Mass will be celebrated by the Most Rev. Joseph R. Binzer, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. A brunch buffet will follow.
Tickets for the brunch must be purchased in advance ($10 for adults; $5 for children ages 7-12; free for children 6 and younger or for clergy and members of a religious order).
About the honorees
David Wiltse, in addition to serving as CRMF board chair, is currently chief of staff for the U.S. assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. In November, he received the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Civilian Service, the highest recognition bestowed on a civilian at the DOD.
Ginny Ruehlmann Wiltse is director of CRMF and vice chair of its board, working on a volunteer basis to handle day-to-day operations – often from the kitchen table at her home. She also is a member of the board of trustees of the SC Ministry Foundation and has served on the boards of Seton High School, Children’s Heart Association and Union Institute and University. She has received numerous awards.