Written by Betsy Abraham and Colleen Maidhof Thursday, 01 August 2013 00:00
Politicians, former athletes and other notable figures came out to the Old Westbury Golf and Country Club recently for the Marty Lyons Foundation’s 28th Annual Celebrity Golf Classic.
Founded by former New York Jets defensive lineman Marty Lyons, the foundation grants wishes for children with life-threatening or terminal illnesses. So far it has made more than 7,000 wishes come true, including trips to Disney, shopping sprees, a swim with dolphins and face-time with celebrities and heroes.
Lyons started the foundation in 1982 after he lost his father and a young friend within a few days of each other. After seeing Keith, to whom he had acted as a big brother, die of leukemia at just five years old, Lyons set out to brighten the lives of youngsters suffering with terminal illnesses.
“If you can improve the quality of life, even for one day, then you’ve done something good,” Lyons said. “All of us have an opportunity to make this world a little better. You don’t have to be a football player or someone with a lot of money; you just have to be someone who cares.”
The golf classic is the foundation’s biggest fundraiser, and this year raised over $400,000. Attendees enjoyed brunch, a full day of golf, a cocktail reception and dinner.
“You get such a wonderful sense of satisfaction when you give back to these children. Showing them concern and love can be so hopeful,” said former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has been attending the classic for 15 years. “It’s a wonderful organization and a wonderful golf tournament. It’s people who get to enjoy what they do and do it in a way that helps children and you don’t have a better day than that.”
Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman returned to the fundraiser for the sixth time, with his son and father-in-law. “It’s a great cause and a fun event. Marty has a personal relationship with these kids and to be part of that with him is very meaningful,” Kaiman said. “It’s hard not to want to come out and do this with him every year.”
At the dinner reception, the foundation honored Thomas P. Tiernon, Town of North Hempstead Superintendent of Highways, as Man of the Year.
“Thomas is someone the foundation can count on to help make the dreams of our wish children come true,” Lyons said. “The members of our board, volunteers, and the families of the children we care about so much appreciate his support.”
The classic was held at the recently renovated Old Westbury Golf and Country Club on Wheatley Road. The members-only club finally completed a series of property and facilities improvements this month.
Construction began in 2010, with upgrades to the fitness center’s equipment, infrastructure and roof. Major renovations were completed in the main building this year, with
most of the construction being done in the fall and winter to avoid interfering with peak golf season. The main building got a lounge along with an upscale library, private dining rooms, extra restrooms and resting areas. The sports shop was expanded and stocked with more golf and tennis accessories and equipment. The patio overlooking the hill—located on one of the highest points of Long Island—was also reconstructed. On clear days, members can see the tower at Jones Beach.
The club dates back to 1887, when William C. Whitney, a secretary of the Navy, purchased the property and built the estate and tower. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney, who inherited it in 1942, demolished the old mansion and built the what eventually became the Old Westbury clubhouse. In 1961, the newly formed Old Westbury Golf and Country Club purchased 200 acres of the estate opposite the original 600, including the mansion house, tennis house, polo buildings, stables and tower.
Now the historic site encompasses 27 holes of golf, 14 outdoor tennis courts, and two outdoor swimming pools. The tower, which served as a beacon and watchtower during World War II, is incorporated into the club’s insignia.