Dowling College presented a special Golden Lions Award to Marty Lyons, a man who epitomizes professionalism, dignity and the spirit of giving.
Football fans know the Marty Lyons who was part of the “New York Sack Exchange” and chased down running backs and quarterbacks during his standout career with the New York Jets from 1979 to 1990. Many also recall his days at the University of Alabama, where he captained a NCAA Division I National Championship team and was selected as an All-American in 1978. But Marty’s vast accomplishments on the field are just a part of his story.
The week of March 4th, 1982 would make Marty Lyons realize that there was more to life than football. On March 4th, his son, Rocky, was born; on March 8th, his father passed away; and on March 10, a young boy that he had served as a Big Brother, lost his battle to leukemia. From that point on, Marty dedicated himself to honor the memory of his father and his friend, Keith. In December of 1982, he started The Marty Lyons Foundation, which provides special wishes to children diagnosed with a terminal or chronic life-threatening illness. In nearly 20 years, Marty’s dedication to helping others has not wavered, in fact, it continues to grow stronger. His foundation now operates in several states, with chapters recently added in Maryland, Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. By providing ill children with special trips, tickets to games, and visits from star athletes, the foundation makes a difference for the children and also for those who volunteer their time.
Among the events that Marty’s foundation runs to raise funds and awareness is the annual celebrity golf classic. The event has been held for 17 years and raises in excess of $100,000 annually. The winner of the 2000 “Closest to the Pin” trophy was New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who praised the efforts of the foundation’s namesake. “Marty Lyons is an exceptional person, “the Mayor said. “His foundation reflects his generosity and love.”
While Marty is all about giving, he has also received numerous well-deserved awards, including National Football League Man of the Year (1984); Long Island Lone Eagle Award; Westchester/Putnam Co. Knights of Columbus Man of the Decade; Gary Carter Award from the Long Island Leukemia Society; American Red Cross Good Neighbor Award; Person of the Year from the Long Island Advertising Club; Man of the Year from Long Island Jewish Hospital, United Way Lifetime Achievement Award; Sons of Italy Citizen of the Year; New Jersey Sportswriters Good Guy Award, Ernie Davis Humanitarian Award and the 200 NFL Alumni New York Chapter “Helping Hands Award.”
Marty currently serves as sales and marketing director for the Amityville-based LandTek Group. Marty and his wife, Christine, have four children, Rocky, Jesse, Megan, and Luke.
Individuals interested in learning more about the Marty Lyons Foundation should call 1-877-560-WISH
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