When Mike Ryan, president of LandTek Group, Amityville, N.Y., hired Marty Lyons as his director of sales and marketing in 2000, he got more than a former All-American defensive football player for the University of Alabama and No. 1 draft choice for the New York Jets. He got an award-winning philanthropist who has been channeling his desire to help terminally ill children since 1982 by granting wishes through the Marty Lyons Foundation.

Lyons started his foundation with the encouragement and assistance of family and friends, and has had LandTek’s support for the past 15 years. 

“LandTek has been the lead financial sponsor at all of the foundation’s fundraisers, including the annual golf outing, bike ride, casino night, bowling event and at Christmas time,” says Lyons, who is now the company’s vice president of marketing and public relations. “Mike Ryan got involved the day I was hired and has been a man of his word.”

Now in its 35th year, the foundation has granted more than 7,300 wishes and operates through 10 chapters covering Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. Unlike similar charitable organizations, the Marty Lyons Foundation is willing to grant a second wish to children who relapse. Ninety-two cents from every dollar donated goes directly to granting wishes, which average $5,000 per recipient.

Wishes are as diverse as the people requesting them: taking family trips to Disney World, meeting a celebrity, going on a shopping spree, having a Cinderella-themed sweet 16 birthday party, swimming with dolphins and many more. Renovations to make homes and backyards more accommodating and enjoyable for children with special needs are common as well, which is where LandTek’s expertise as a general contractor comes into play.

“In our industry, we design, build and maintain athletic facilities that ultimately benefit many communities. It is gratifying when we can assist in a special project, whether it is a monetary donation or an in-kind service,” says LandTek Group COO and Vice President of Operations John Sulinski. “We have a dedicated group of suppliers, employees and ownership that always step up to the plate.” 

Outside of the Marty Lyons Foundation, last year LandTek Group donated resources originally set aside for a holiday party to The Guiding Eyes for the Blind, which provides guide dogs to people with vision loss, and A Mother’s Kiss, which provides emotional and financial support to the families of childhood cancer patients in the Long Island, N.Y., area.

“Everyone can make a difference,” Lyons says. “All you have to do is care and do the right thing.” 

Marty Lyons Foundation
Established in 1982 
Has fulfilled the wishes of more than 7,300 children ages 3 to 17 who have a terminal or life-threatening illness
Ten chapters grant wishes in 13 states

Joanna Masterson is senior editor of Construction Executive. For more information, email masterson@abc.org, visit constructionexec.com or follow @ConstructionMag.