New England Patriots middle linebacker Kyle Van Noy (53) smiles as he walks on the field against the Detroit Lions during an NFL preseason football game in Detroit, Thursday, August 8, 2019. (Paul Sancya, Associated Press)
Estimated reading time: 3-4 minutes
SALT LAKE CITY – This story hits harder than most, both for an NFL great and a grumpy writer-turned-Sporttalk radio host.
Let’s start with the football star, veteran linebacker Kyle Van Noy. Perhaps the greatest cougar ever on defense, the former BYU star is making the difference well beyond the football field.
Van Noy and his wife Marissa established the Van Noy Valor Foundation a few years ago; its mission: “to foster personal bravery in the lives of adopted children, foster parents and disadvantaged youth by armoring them with resources, mentors and opportunities to succeed.”
The couple started a Utah chapter and hosted a golf tournament in Utah County this week to raise awareness and money for causes. Within the foundation, they have started a program specifically focused on adoption and foster care.
“All of the money we raise for this golf tournament will go to these kids to give them scholarships and internships so they can change the course of their lives to get better,” Van Noy said during a radio interview with The Zone Sports Network. “A lot of these kids just need some help and a lot of kids want help. And we can give them that.
“I mean, just the impact in the few years that we’ve launched this program within our foundation has been amazing.”
This is personal to Van Noy, who was adopted and played at BYU for four years. His wife, who is from Utah, is also linked to family adoption.
Entering his ninth NFL season, which will be his first with the Los Angeles Chargers, Van Noy has won two Super Bowl championships with the New England Patriots. but maybe his best performance has nothing to do with tackles.
“It’s been really great for my wife and I, and we want to give something back,” he said. “And we’ve been doing this for a long time now and we’re really excited to bring it to Utah.”
In a way, Van Noy sees the grooming program as a kind of second chance. He benefited from a second chance at BYU, where he had to sit out his freshman year before he could compete.
Before enrolling, he was subpoenaed in his hometown of Reno, Nevada, for drunk driving. Coach Bronco Mendenhall offered to release Van Noy from his letter of intent, but still wanted him at BYU on the condition that he take a year off.
With a background in adoption and second chances, Van Noy understands the struggles of children in the foster care system. Aging out of the system at 18 often leads to extreme difficulties, which is why the Van Noys also created the Valiant Knights program to help this high-risk group.
It is estimated that around 20,000 young people leave foster families and are left to fend for themselves each year. They are more likely to endure hardships such as homelessness, employment problems, and drug use.
“Young men and young women who are aging out of foster care don’t get as much love,” Van Noy said. “They are kind of left behind. The stats for them are outrageous, from prison to pregnancy. We wanted to counteract that a bit. And that’s why we give these people money to do internships and scholarships. “
This is where Van Noy’s excellent work gets personal. My wife and I have adopted two children in addition to serving as foster parents for the past 10 years to a daughter who is now in high school.
In the end, we learn as we go. And hopefully our good intentions will make a difference.