Our Mission and History

Our Mission and History


The Mission of the Marty Lyons Foundation is to fulfill the wishes of children ages three (3) to seventeen (17) who have been diagnosed as having terminal or life-threatening illnesses. We are unique in that we will grant a second wish to a deserving child.


“In March 1982, three events altered my life.  In the period of one week, my first son, Rocky, was born; my father, Leo, passed away suddenly; and Keith, a little boy to whom I was a Big Brother, passed away from leukemia.”   Imagine being on top of the world, and in the period of six 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.”  – Marty Lyons, Co-Founder/Chairman

After a six-day stretch filled with incredible highs and heart-breaking lows, Marty Lyons, with the help and encouragement of the first volunteers, established the Marty Lyons Foundation. The goal was to make critically ill children who were in unimaginable and unfortunate battles with their health to feel as special as he felt playing for the New York Jets in the NFL.

What started as six folks around a table on Long Island trying to figure out how to make a child’s wish come true has expanded to 11 chapters covering 14 states, hundreds of volunteers, over 8,400 wishes granted and over $43,000,000 raised.

Since we were established, we have continued to grant wishes that have immeasurably enriched the lives of children and brought an equal measure of welcomed comfort and cheer to their families and caregivers. Wishes made possible by us and our generous sponsors have ranged from Disney vacations, cruises, concert tickets or Broadway shows, to meeting sports heroes, the fun of a shopping spree, to room makeovers or the critical gift of special medical beds or other medical equipment.

Our full focus is on helping make wishes a reality for children at a time when they are experiencing profoundly challenging medical issues. Thanks to the shared vision and generous endorsement of our supporters and sponsors, we are inspired in our work every day to give children the opportunity to dream which helps alleviate stress for them and in turn, their loved ones.

There is no more rewarding feeling than to see the transformational difference these heartfelt ‘wishes come true’ make! It can be a game changer on a child’s outlook.


8,500+ wishes granted as of April 2024

75 cents Nearly 75 cents of every dollar goes towards program services