ALBANY – Mary Lyall of Ballston Spa was honored by the New York State Senate for her efforts to bring attention to issues related to missing persons.
Lyall, who has been an advocate for finding missing persons and helping families of missing loved ones for nearly two decades, was honored Tuesday, May 9 as a 2017 New York State Senate Woman of Distinction to represent the 49th Senate District.
Lyall and her late husband, Doug Lyall, took up the cause in after the disappearance of their daughter, Suzanne. The couple created the Center for Hope to help other families find missing loved ones and advocate for state and federal legislation and initiatives to better respond to missing person cases.
“Mary Lyall is a community hero and a wonderful person, who with her late husband, Doug, turned their personal tragedy into a mission to ensure that what happened to their family is never experienced by someone else’s family,” said state Sen. Jim Tedisco (R,C,I,REF-Glenville). “Mary Lyall’s efforts to help others and make New York State and our nation safer represents the best of our state and has truly made her a woman, and a New Yorker, of distinction.”
In 1999, Mary and Doug Lyall helped get “Suzanne’s Law Campus Safety Act” passed in New York to require all colleges in the state to have plans that provide for the investigation of missing students and violent felony offenses committed on campus.
The couple’s advocacy on behalf of their daughter and all families of missing persons got “Suzanne’s Law” passed on the federal level in 2003 to require that police notify the National Crime Information Center when someone between the ages of 18 and 21 is reported missing, as part of the national Amber Alert bill. Lyall is now working with Tedisco on the state level to pass “Suzanne’s Law: The Assault Free School Zone Bill” to increase penalties for violent crimes committed on any type of school grounds.
Tedisco noted that thanks to the strong advocacy of the Lyalls,
New York became the first state in the nation to create a Missing Persons Remembrance Monument thanks to the advocacy of the Lyalls. The monument is located ocated next to the state museum in Albany and hold an annual Missing Persons Day that brings together family members of missing persons to share ways of coping and to keep hope alive.
In recent years, the Lyalls conceived of the idea of putting the pictures of missing persons on playing cards distributed at state prisons and drink coasters at local restaurants and taverns with the hope this will generate tips that could solve a cold case. This led to the creation of the “Coasters for Hope” program that has distributed 75,000 drink coasters with pictures and information on missing persons to restaurants and taverns across the Capital Region.
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