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NEW YORK, April 18, 2012—The Christophers announced today that Marty Lyons – former defensive lineman for the New York Jets, current color analyst for Jets games on ESPN Radio, Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations at The Landtek Group, and founder of The Marty Lyons Foundation which has offered hope and inspiration to some 6,000 seriously ill children and teens over 30 years – will receive the 2012 James Keller Award at the 63rd annual Christopher Awards ceremony in New York City on Thursday, May 24th. 

Since 1987, the James Keller Award – named after The Christophers’ founder – has recognized adults who are impacting the lives of children, and young people who are changing the world.  Previous recipients include hockey Hall-of-Famer and patron of critically ill children Pat LaFontaine, and beloved Sesame Street puppeteer Caroll Spinney.

            After attending St. Petersburg Catholic High School in Florida, Lyons learned both football and leadership skills under the guidance of the late Coach “Bear” Bryant during his days as a student-athlete at the University of Alabama. Lyons went on to a successful 12-year professional football career with the New York Jets.

In March 1982, Lyons experienced several life-changing moments over a very short period of time. He said, “In one week, my father, Leo, passed away suddenly; Keith, a little boy to whom I was a Big Brother, passed away from leukemia; and my first son, Rocky, was born. Imagine being on top of the world, and in the period of seven days you are forced to see the frailty, unfairness, and the wonder of life. I decided to use my name and my God-given talent to make a difference in the lives of terminally ill children.”

For three decades, The Marty Lyons Foundation has fulfilled special wishes for children and teens diagnosed with life-threatening or terminal illnesses. The Foundation has grown to include nine chapters covering 12 states: Alabama. Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, Massachusetts, Texas and Pennsylvania. Among its many acts of kindness, the Foundation has provided a seizure-alert dog for a teen who suffered seizure disorders; paid for a trip that would allow a dying 13-year-old girl with leukemia to visit her extended family, and sent a Long Island boy with a rare genetic disease to Disney World with his family.

Regarding this aspect of his life, Lyons says, “Seeing kids who are sick and dying is one of the hardest things in the world, especially for a parent like me. Regardless of how tough I was on the football field, the kids we’ve helped are the ones who demonstrate real toughness and resilience. Being able to bring a smile to their faces and a little light into their lives is an honor and a privilege. It means a lot to them, but it gives me a taste of heaven on earth as well.”

The Christophers, a nonprofit organization, is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition of service to God and humanity.  The ancient Chinese proverb —“It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness”— guides its publishing, radio and awards programs. 


To read about the 2012 Christopher Life Achievement Award winner, Click Here


To read about the 2012 winners for Books, Films and Television, Click Here