To help deserving but underserved youth develop the social and emotional qualities needed to be successful in life. Through incentive-based programming, we encourage students to reach their full potential both in the classroom and in life. We use education, athletics and wellness activities as the foundation for youth development.
Core Values of the Fight for Life Foundation
Fight for Life holds the following core values above all else:
We must always remain humble in the face of success and adversity. We must stay balanced in order to remain focused on our goal of directing children’s lives down the right path.
We must strive to be creative in our thoughts and approach towards creating ways to help those less fortunate.
We must always be able to step outside of ourselves and look inside in order to see how others may view the world around us. We need to always remain open to understand and consider the view of others.
We must feel with our hearts and souls the passion that lies within us to help those less fortunate. We must be able to absorb and understand the circumstances that exist for those we are trying to help.
Marlin Jackson Bio and Explanation of Fight for Life Foundation.
I was born in Youngstown Oh. and raised just across the border in Sharon Pa. I grew up never knowing my father and still don't to this day. My mother was a woman who struggled with an addiction to crack cocaine. This caused my siblings and I to grow up in a home lacking love, compassion and the proper guidance that a child needs. Our child hood was filled with loneliness and a yearning for love. I eventually was separated from that environment and moved with relatives. Things were better for a short time, but after their divorce, I moved once again. Drifting from place to place is how I felt most times, leaving me numb to the world, so repressed with anger and emotion. Most times in my childhood I felt alone. I moved two more times in high school finally ending up with my high school football coach and his wife for my senior year of high school all the way through college. I was able to overcome my childhood traumas only by God’s grace upon my life.
I attended the University of Michigan on a full scholarship. During my time at Michigan I was named a two time all American and team captain. My senior year in college I decided that once I made it to the NFL, I was going to start a foundation for disadvantaged youth. I was always thankful to make it out of my environment. Most kids from my neighborhood don't make it out. They end up in the streets selling drugs or in jail, so once again God’s grace was upon me.
After graduating from the University of Michigan I was selected in the first round by the Indianapolis Colts in the 2005 draft. Now in the NFL I was in a position to start a foundation to make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged children. In 2006 my cousin approached me about starting a community center named Fight for Life. Once I heard the name Fight For Life I knew that was the perfect name for my foundation. In 2007 Fight for Life was born. In reading my bio I hope you can see how the name Fight for Life is relevant. I had to fight against never knowing my father, having a drug addicted mother, being neglected, moving from home to home, and not having any positive role models. I had to fight for my life, the life that I wanted, the life that was just above the horizon of the ghetto that I could not see. The more I experienced beyond the confines of my childhood, the more I became encouraged to fight for all that is right and just in the world. My hope is to give kids who grow up as I did a fighting chance to make it in the world and to let them know that their environment does not have to dictate who they are in a negative way.
My goal is to introduce kids to life lessons and coach character qualities that I've learned along the way in order to help them side step some obstacles that I’ve faced. We don't know what we don't know! If no one has ever shown or talked to you about love, respect, trust or discipline, then how will you know?
The mission of Fight for Life founders and supporters is to fill a void in kids’ lives where guidance is missing. We hope to give kids the fighting chance that each child deserves in life, the simple qualities that so many take for granted. This is why we feel compelled to help in the fight for a better life for disadvantaged children. This is why we say, “Dream...Believe...You can Achieve!”
FOUNDER and EXECUTIVE ADVISORY BOARD BIOGRAPHIES
Marlin Jackson, Founder and President is a graduate of the University of Michigan, during his time at U of M Marlin was one of two team captains and was also selected as a two time First team All Big Ten and All-American selection. After college Marlin was selected in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts, while in the NFL Marlin had a brief stint with the Philadelphia Eagles before retiring in 2012. During his time with the Indianapolis Colts, they defeated the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI. Due to Marlins childhood struggles, he was motivated to start the Fight for Life Foundation in order to help disadvantaged youth overcome obstacles and attain their goals. Since retiring from the NFL, Marlin has embraced the challenge of taking Fight for Life to the level of sustainability. In his role as President of Fight for Life, Marlin has a distinct vision and ability to uplift, empower, and guide disadvantaged youth through character development, self- reflection, and sports related programming.
Lynn Black, Advisory Board is a born and bred Indiana Hoosier whose career has focused on K-12 school reform. He has served school communities throughout the state as a teacher, principal, assistant superintendent, adjunct professor and charter school leader. He most recently introduced hybrid and virtual education to the state while opening the first schools of this kind for over 3,000 students. He has worked for and with the public and private sector for educational management organizations, leadership groups and board associations. Presently he works for the Office of Charter Schools at Ball State University and does training through his consultancy for leadership and board development.
Liz Dixson-Tunstill, Executive Director is a 15 year media veteran. She is currently a radio & TV personality for Radio One. Liz has over 12 years of non-profit experience. Her passion is helping Women and children. She currently serves as one of the executive directors of the Fight For Life Foundation. Liz has been with the foundation since November 2009 and has served as the executive director from 2009-2012. Liz has volunteered over 5,000 hours in the past 3 years. She proudly served as the promotions co-chair for the Indy Superbowl Host committee. Liz's mission is to empower, motivate, and inspire everyone she reaches.
Peggy Hill, Advisory Board graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Multicultural Elementary Education and began her teaching career in the Indianapolis Public School system. She spent the bulk of her career in a diverse, suburban district in Indianapolis. Her experience ranged from first to fifth grades, serving the last 21 years in a science and technology magnet school. During her 32 years of teaching, Peggy served as a team leader, township trainer of TESA, authorand facilitator of numerous Arts in Education grants, curriculum developer, conference presenter, high school women’s track coach, mentor teacher, and enrichment/remediation program co-designer. Peggy’s most acclaimed role has been raising two beautiful, compassionate children. Peggy continues to be active today volunteering in schools, working as a data collector and assessment coordinator for a national research company, and dabbling in retail.
Steve Hill, Advisory Board is an OEM Account Manager at Allison Transmission, Inc., a world leading manufacturer of heavy duty, fully automatic transmissions for heavy duty trucks and buses. With responsibility for managing five key OEM's (Original Equipment Manufacturer) including Mack Trucks, Inc. Volvo Trucks N.A., Hino Trucks, U.S.A., UD Trucks, and Fuso Trucks. A high performer and natural relationship builder with passion and drive. Specialized in providing result-driven sales volume and business development with a history ofsuccessfully promoting and closing complex sales agreements. He has over 35years’ experience in the transportation industry. Steve also served as a Sport Manager for the 1987 Pan American Games Organizing Committee, managing Track and Field, Judo, Taekwondo and Women's Softball, while playing a key role in the success of the games. Steve has also served as Awards Chairman of Men and Women's division 1 Track and Field Championships. He lives in Indianapolis, Indiana with his wife Peggy. They have two children, Christopher and Nicole, and they attend St. Lukes Methodist Church. A member of The United Way Committee, he is an experienced football, basketball, and track coach. When not working, Steve enjoys playing golf, jazz, traveling, coaching and attending sporting events.
ANDREW MORTON is a Partner and Chair of the Sports and Entertainment Law Practice at Handler Thayer LLP, where he serves as philanthropy and public policy counsel to high-profile public figures engaged in the nonprofit sector. Prior to joining Handler Thayer, Andrew practiced with the Political Law and Government Relations groups of Latham & Watkins LLP, and Foley & Lardner LLP. In those roles, he advised the firm’s nonprofit and commercial clients in the areas of corporate governance, compliance and Board oversight, as well as legislative strategy and public policy engagement. A frequent speaker on international human rights and immigration law, Andrew has testified before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, and appeared in national media outlets including CNN, ABC World News Tonight, National Public Radio, the New York Times and the Washington Post. Andrew earned his J.D., cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he served as a member of the Board of Editors ofthe University of Pennsylvania Law Review and Co-Chair of the Equal Justice Foundation. Andrew also attended the University of Maryland, earning an M.P.P. in international security and economic policy from the School of Public Affairs, and a B.A., magna cum laude, in economics and Spanish.
M. Kim Saxton, Advisory Board is a Clinical Associate Professor of Marketing at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. In this role, she has helped create ongoing programs and improve marketing efforts for a wide variety of Indianapolis non-profits including Horizon House Homeless Day Shelter, Little Red Door Cancer Agency, The Jared Foundation, Grameen America, Catholic Charities of the Central Indiana Archdiocese, School on Wheels, Indy Reads, Ronald McDonald House, Christel House Academies, Special Olympics of Indiana and others. She has provided insights to the decision making of a variety of Fortune 500 firms and local start-up companies.
Todd Saxton, Advisory Board is Associate Professor and the Indiana Venture Faculty Fellow at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business. Todd teaches strategy and entrepreneurship, and is an active angel investor and co-founder of several ventures. Todd grew up in New Jersey, and began working with youth programs in his first year of college at the University of Virginia. Todd was active as a Big Brother throughout college and has been a volunteer coach for recreational and travel soccer programs for more than 20 years. He also serves on the Board of the Venture Club of Indiana. For his own recreational pleasure and fitness, Todd enjoys triathlon and has completed 3 Ironman-distance events.