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Patrick Kinahan: Former BYU football star Kyle Van Noy tackles important issues for children

New England Patriots middle linebacker Kyle Van Noy (53) smiles walking on the field against the Detroit Lions during an NFL preseason football game in Detroit, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019.

New England Patriots middle linebacker Kyle Van Noy (53) smiles walking on the field against the Detroit Lions during an NFL preseason football game in Detroit, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019. (Paul Sancya, Associated Press)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — This story hits home more than most, both for an NFL great and a curmudgeon writer turned sports talk radio host.

Let's start with the football star, veteran linebacker Kyle Van Noy. The former BYU standout, perhaps the greatest Cougar ever on the defensive side, is making the type of difference well beyond the football field.

Van Noy and his wife, Marissa, started the Van Noy Valor Foundation several years ago; its mission: to encourage "personal valor in the lives of adopted children, those in foster care and disadvantaged youth by armoring them with success through resources, mentors and opportunities."

The couple launched a Utah chapter, hosting a golf tournament this week in Utah County to raise awareness and money to help the causes. Within the foundation, they have started a program specifically focused on adoption and foster care.

"All the money that we raise for this golf tournament is going to go to those kids to provide them scholarships and internships so they can change the course of their lives to be 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're able to give that to them.

"I mean, just the impact in just the couple of years that we've started this program within our foundation has been amazing."

This is personal for Van Noy, who was adopted and went on to play four years at BYU. His wife, who is from Utah, also is connected to adoption through family members.

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 perhaps his best accomplishment has nothing to do with tackles.

"It's been really big for my wife and I, and we want to give back," he said. "And we've been doing it for a long time now, and we're very excited to bring it to Utah."

In a sense, Van Noy views the foster care program as a form of a second chance. He benefitted from a second chance at BYU, where he had to sit out his first year before being allowed to compete.

Before enrolling, he was cited on DUI charges in his hometown of Reno, Nevada. Coach Bronco Mendenhall offered to release Van Noy from his letter of intent but still wanted him at BYU with the condition of taking a year off.

With his background of 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 difficulty, which is why the Van Noys also started the Valiant Knights program to help this highly at-risk group.

It is estimated about 20,000 youth exit foster care annually and are left to fend for themselves. They are more likely to endure hardships such as homelessness, employment issues and substance use.

"Young men and young women that are aging out of foster care don't get so much love," Van Noy said. "They're kind of left behind. The statistics for them are outrageous, from jail to pregnancy. We wanted to make a little dent into that. And, so, we give money to those folks to be able to do internships and scholarships."

Here's where it gets personal with Van Noy's excellent work. My wife and I have adopted two children in addition to serving as foster parents the last 10 years to a daughter, who is now in high school.

In the end, we learn as we go. And hopefully our good intentions make a difference.

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Patrick is a radio host for 97.5/1280 The Zone and the Zone Sports Network. He, along with David James, are on the air Monday-Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.

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