Kyle Van Noy came to New England in October of 2016. He has been dominating the field for just over three years, leaving offenses haunted with boogeyman nightmares, but off the field, Kyle channels his energy differently.
With the same ferocity he chases down quarterbacks, Kyle is relentless in his mission to empower foster kids, their families and those going through adoption.
Kyle and his wife Marissa started their Van Noy Valor Foundation in 2014 when he was a member of the Lions. It started with deep emotional roots. As an infant, Kyle was adopted, as were Marissa' father and brother.
This is more than volunteer hours for the Van Noys. It's personal. It's family.
The reality for foster families can be isolating. There is instability, uncertainty and, in many cases, trauma. There are thousands of kids in foster care at any given moment in Massachusetts, and since coming to New England, Kyle has given hundreds the opportunity to laugh, smile, relax and be children.
There have been movie premieres, bowling excursions, ropes courses and an annual holiday party that is truly a celebration. Every year, he hosts a celebrity waiter night fundraiser to pay for these events throughout the season, and through all of these events, Kyle is authentically Kyle. He'll laugh with kids and teens, get competitive when someone jokingly talks trash and remind each and every one that they are loved. They have a friend in him.
He isn't just writing a check. He is creating memories. By spending his time with them, he is telling the kids he meets, "I am on your side. I believe in you. I am cheering you on."
At the annual Very Van Noy Christmas event on Dec. 7, a first-time foster mother walked with her son to meet Kyle. He signed an autograph, shared a laugh and a said goodbye with a fist bump.
As they left, she struggled to fight back tears. The moment, the simple interaction at a joyful event, overwhelmed her.
"For [my son] to see he's not alone, to see how many people are in foster care and with a foster family means a lot to him," she said. "That means a lot to us."
More than anything, that is why the work Kyle has done is so important, and it comes down to a simple and universal idea.
"I want to continue to spread that nobody is alone. Everybody's loved," Kyle said.
Walter Payton himself once said, "We are stronger together than we are alone."
Every day Kyle is a living example of that, which makes him a fitting choice for the Patriots Walter Payton Man of the Year Award nominee. As it turns out, his true strength lies not on the football field, but in lifting up those who need it most, those who need someone who believe in them, those who need someone like Kyle Van Noy.
Patriots fans can vote for Kyle in the Man of the Year Charity Challenge. By tweeting "#WPMOYChallenge Van Noy" or "#WPMOYChallenge @KVN_03."