Act of Excellence: Katie Day has a passion for people and their four-legged friends.

Katie Day has a passion for people and their four-legged friends.

That passion earned her recognition from the South Dakota Hall of Fame as a winner of an Act of Excellence award.

Day, a Sioux Falls real estate broker, was recognized by the state Hall of Fame this month for her involvement in transporting homeless and wild dogs from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation after a pack of wild dogs killed 8-year-old Jayla Rodriguez there in November 2014.

Day started a GoFundMe page then to help raise money to rent a U-Haul and transport dogs to rescue organizations in Watertown and Minneapolis.

Day has been transporting homeless or stray dogs for around six years, but her involvement in volunteering with animals started almost 10 years ago. It was Rodriguez’s death that pushed her to help find homes for the unwanted dogs from the reservation.

Mary Olinger, former CEO of the Make-A-Wish South Dakota, submitted Day’s story to the Hall of Fame. She’s known Day for years, as Day has volunteered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation for about 10 years.

Day also volunteers with Meals on Wheels, Workers on Wheels and is a mentor for Lutheran Social Services.

“This gal has a heart of gold,” Olinger said. “If you want somebody to help you out, Katie will be right there. She’s just a very caring and sharing person.”

Olinger is on the South Dakota Hall of Fame Board of Directors, but isn’t involved in selecting who receives the Act of Excellence awards. The organization started the Act of Excellence awards about two years ago and has since recognized around 30 acts of kindness.

The South Dakota Hall of Fame, founded in 1974, recognizes outstanding South Dakotans for contributions to the state and aims to influence others to “embrace excellence as a core value.”

Day is grateful for the recognition, but said she hopes the attention shines light on the organizations that need more volunteers.

“Recognition is always nice, but I think that letting people know there are all these different places out there that could use more volunteers (is more important),” Day said.

Anyone can submit someone for an Act of Excellence award through the South Dakota Hall of Fame website.

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