Lyons named as one of 15 Heroes For Children statewide
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Charles Lyons of Copperas Cove will be honored along with 14 other volunteers throughout Texas by the State Board of Education as one of the 2017 Heroes For Children.
Lyons is a longtime Copperas Cove resident who although retired, keeps up a pace that might leave individuals half his age in the proverbial dust.
He is a member of the Noon Exchange Club and is the adviser for the EXCEL Club at the high school along with the HUTS Club for homeschooled students. Both groups are the youth clubs sponsored by Exchange. In addition to his work with the Exchange Club, Lyons also coaches STARZZ youth basketball and runs the league.
“He dedicates an exorbitant amount of time to our youth to ensure they have productive activities to keep them busy in our small community rather than getting into mischief or worse,” Wendy Sledd, CCISD’s director of communications, wrote in her nomination of Lyons. “His league runs like clockwork and Mr. Lyons is very professional in all his dealings which has contributed to the league’s success in players, coaches and sponsors returning year after year.”
Lyons is also this year’s president of the Cove Quarterback Club, and when his children—now graduated—were in school, he and his wife headed up Project Graduation several times.
But, in February 2017, when Lyons learned that the group had only raised $20 in a five-month period, Lyons stepped up to help and within three months, the group had raised $9,000 toward the overnight event for graduating seniors.
Of this, Sledd wrote, “He has no personal stake in this event. It is not for his child. But, he truly loves children and wants what is best for them.”
Lyons has one motto concerning volunteering: “Someone has to do it.”
“I started working with kids for the first time in a youth group, in 1967 in Gary, Indiana. We had a children’s group in what we called the old settlement houses ran by the Presbyterian church. We did what we do now, volunteer services, leadership programs for them,” Lyons said. “It was initially when I got involved. I think it had a lot to do with the fact we didn’t have a lot to do at that time, it was a poor neighborhood. Just an opportunity to get the kids to do something differently.”
That’s when Lyons said he also got his start coaching, something he continues to do now.
Of his present volunteering efforts for children, he doesn’t take the credit for himself alone.
“It’s a two-fer. It’s Team Lyons,” he said. “My wife, Dorothy, is right there with me.” He also acknowledged the efforts of other volunteers in the organizations he works with.
The spirit of volunteerism and helping children also extends to the Lyons’ two children, Jasmin, a 2013 CCHS alum who is a student at Sam Houston State; and Justin, a coach and P.E. teacher for Kilgore ISD. Jasmin was diagnosed with lupus in 2010, and together, the family—Team Lyons—organizes and holds a Lupus Awareness Walk each year.
In working with multiple volunteer organizations and events, Lyons said he keeps things compartmentalized and keeps the ball rolling by giving each group its own spreadsheet. He works backward from the date of an event and puts specific tasks on a calendar—for example, sending out a media press release 30 days prior to an event.
“A lot of people say, ‘When I retire, I’m going to do this.’ Well, we’re just going to do what we want to do, which is help the community, help kids, help the school district, help the USO, help the military veterans. Just help where it’s needed. That’s our number-one goal,” Lyons said.
The State Board of Education established the Heroes for Children award program in 1994 and recognizes excellence in advocacy for education, spotlighting volunteers who make significant contributions to public school education in Texas.