ALBANY — On May 8, State Senator Jim Tedisco (R,C,I,REF-Glenville) announced that he had selected Mary Lyall of Ballston Spa as this year’s New York State Senate Woman of Distinction to represent the 49th Senate District.
For nearly 20 years, Lyall has been a dedicated advocate for finding missing persons and helping families of missing loved ones.
When her daughter, Suzanne Lyall, went missing in 1998, Mary and her late husband Doug turned their sadness into a positive force by creating the Center for Hope to help other families find missing loved ones and advocate for state and federal support.
In 1999, the Lyalls 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 Lyalls’ advocacy inspired a 2003 federal law that requires local police to notify the National Crime Information Center when someone between the ages of 18 and 21 is reported missing, as part of the Amber Alert bill.
Lyall is now working with Tedisco to pass “Suzanne’s Law: The Assault Free School Zone Bill” to increase penalties in New York for violent crimes committed on any type of school grounds.
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 with the hope this will generate tips that could solve cold cases. The “Coasters for Hope” program has distributed 75,000 drink coasters to restaurants and taverns across the Capital Region.