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Portrait of Giving

The Turco Family

By Alicia Wanek

Playing professional sports takes extreme dedication.  Former Dallas Stars goalie, Marty Turco, has been described as “the smartest goalie in the National Hockey League,” but his dedication to hockey is nothing compared to his devotion to his amazing family and to the city that embraced him.

Growing up in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, Canada, it’s no surprise that Marty began playing hockey at an early age.  It was there in high school that he met his wife Kelly, and the couple married in 2000.  They are now the proud parents of three children:  Hailey, age 15; Katelyn, age 13; and Finley, age 9.  Kelly followed Marty from Canada to the University of Michigan, where both majored in education, and ultimately to Dallas when Marty joined the Stars.

While playing in Michigan, Marty began what has become a lifelong commitment to giving back to his community.  When he was in college, the team would visit the local children’s hospital and help kids who weren’t able to attend the games.  “I did it because I knew it was the right thing to do,” Marty says, “but I don’t think I appreciated the magnitude of what it meant back then.”

He and Kelly have been leaving their mark around Dallas and sharing with their children the value of philanthropy ever since.  “We’re just trying to make a difference…Why not take the opportunity to make your world and community better?” Marty asks.  One big passion is the NHL Stick with Reading program that has reached over 40,000 students in the metroplex since its inception.  As a spokesperson, Marty has visited schools across DFW encouraging children to meet reading goals, and he especially loves the letters from teachers telling how young boys are reading more with the encouragement of positive male role models.

Marty’s professional career allows him to make his mark these days, too.  As Director of Corporate Development for the Dallas Stars, he gets to share his love for his team in procuring new sponsorships and by serving as a team ambassador at the rink.  But his other job as president of the C5 Youth Foundation of Texas allows him and Kelly to share their passion for helping local youth.  C5 reaches out to children in 8th grade, who have great potential but live in under-resourced communities, and follows them through high school with the mission to inspire them to “pursue personal success and prepare them for leadership roles.”  To date the program has a 100% success rate, with every child graduating from high school or joining the military.

Along the way, Kelly says they’ve tried to keep their children involved in as many opportunities to give back as possible.  From having donations in lieu of gifts at their birthday parties to participating in fundraising events to serving meals at soup kitchens or running Bingo nights at a retirement center, the kids have been exposed to volunteerism from an early age.  “Now they’re at the age where they’re bringing us opportunities,” Kelly says.  This past summer, daughter Hailey asked if she could postpone her visit to the family’s lake house in Canada in order to help run a summer vacation Bible school program for underprivileged children.  Kelly and Marty recognized how important it was to her and made accommodations for Marty to stay home with her and join the rest of the family later.  “My parents have always emphasized how you should put others above yourself,” Hailey shares.

Marty shares a quote from local basketball star, Nancy Lieberman, “When you’re young you learn; when you’re playing you earn; when you retire you return.”  At the end of our meeting, I was most struck by a story Marty shared about a letter he received from a woman who had written to him to see if he could provide an autograph to her dying father.  Rather than just sending a photo in the mail, Marty went in person to visit the man in his home and kept in contact until his death the day before our interview.  That type of selfless giving, with no fanfare or recognition, ultimately demonstrates what Lieberman was trying to say and shows a lot about a man who is more than just a sports legend.

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