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.


Fight for Life Foundation was founded by Marlin Jackson, former cornerback for the Indianapolis Colts NFL team.

Marlin’s mission was to give kids a fighting chance. He had to fight to get to where he was and it wasn’t a fight he wished for anyone.He never knew his father, his mother was addicted to drugs, he was neglected and moved from home to home — far from the ideal childhood.

So he fought. He had to fight for his life, the life that he wanted, the life that was just beyond the horizon of the ghetto that he could not see. The more he experienced outside the confines of his childhood, the more he became encouraged to fight for all that is right and just in the world.

Marlin’s hope is to give kids who grow up as he did a fighting chance to make it in the world, to let them know their environment does not have to dictate who they are in a negative way.

Marlin’s goal is to introduce kids to life lessons and coach character qualities that he has learned along the way, in order to help them side step some obstacles that he’s faced and know they have or will face.   We don’t know what we don’t know!  If no one has ever shown or talked to you about love, respect, trust, courage, or discipline, then how will you know?

The mission of Fight for Life founders and supporters is to fill a void in children’s lives where guidance is missing. We hope to give kids the fighting chance that each child deserves in life, by instilling the simple qualities that so many people 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 it…Believe it…Achieve it. The it is up to you!


Fight for Life holds the following core values above all else:

  1. Humility:
    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.
  2. Creativity:
    We must strive to be creative in our thoughts and approach towards creating ways to help those less fortunate.
  3. Perspective:
    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.
  4. Passion:
    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.


  • 2016 Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Community Health Champion
  • 2014 Indy’s Best and Brightest Education and Nonprofit Winner
  • 2013 Indy’s Best and Brightest Finalist
  • 2013 Phalen Leadership Academies’ Indiana Heroes Award Winner
  • 2009 JB Award Winner (NFL)
  • 2009 Ed Block Courage Award Winner (NFL)

Board of Directors & Officers

Marlin Jackson

BOD - Founder, Director, President

Marlin Jackson is a graduate of the University of Michigan, an entrepreneur and a life-long-learner. He sees every experience and encounter as an opportunity for…

Heather Mesalam

BOD - Director and Vice President

Heather Mesalam has over nine years of experience in marketing, operations management, event planning, and personnel management with professional athletes and NCAA Division 1 men’s…

Lynn Black

BOD - Director and Treasurer

Lynn Black is the President of Lynn Black Education Solutions, LLC and transforms schools from the Inside Out working with school and teacher leaders within each organization.  He…

Nikki Jackson

Officer - Secretary

Advisory Counsel

Travis Stegemoller

Legal Strategic Group

Travis Stegemoller is a trademark attorney for Adidas Group where he provides support to its Sports Licensing Division.  Prior to joining Adidas, Travis practiced intellectual property…

Linda M. Carroll

Event Planning and Management Strategic Group

Linda M. Carroll is a M.S., System Director, Mission Integration at St. Vincent Health. She is a Lifelong resident of Indianapolis growing up on northeast side…

Denesa Webber

Business Development Strategic Group

Denesa Webber is an energetic sales professional with over 15 years of experience increasing market share through fostering strategic business relationships, was 2012 National Rookie…

Veronica Watkins

Events, and Relations Strategic Groups

Veronica Watkins is a native of Jackson, Mississippi. A daughter of a preacher caused her to move from Mississippi, to Texas, to Indiana her sophomore…

Christopher M. Browning

Web analytics, Grants and Research Strategic Groups

Browning is a Medical Logistics Officer in the US Army Indiana National Guard (INNG) and an Assistant Project Manager at the IU School of Medicine…

Troy Marchand

Finance Strategic Group

Troy Marchand – Portfolio Manager 8+ years of investment experience, working for firms with $7B, $150M, and $700M in assets Co-Founder and Managing Partner of…

Jordan Shady

Finance Strategic Group

Jordan Shady is a licensed CPA and Senior Accountant in the Assurance Services Group at Somerset CPAs, P.C. Jordan specializes in providing financial statement audit,…

Steve Hill

Events, Relations, and Business Development Strategic Groups

Steve Hill is an OEM Account Manager at Allison Transmission, Inc., a world leading manufacturer of heavy duty, fully automatic transmissions for heavy duty trucks…

Peggy Hill

Programming Strategic Group

Peggy Hill graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Multicultural Elementary Education and began her teaching career in the Indianapolis Public School system. She…

Todd Saxton

Business Development and Marketing Strategic Groups

Todd Saxton is an Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, and is the Indiana Venture Faculty Fellow. Todd…

Legal Counsel

Andrew Morton, Esq.

Foundation Legal Counsel

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…


Social Media and Web Content Coordinator

Kasidee is a Michigan native who graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and Creative Writing. She’s spent three years in Marketing & Community Relations…


Kennedy Nash

Event and Program Management

Kennedy Nash is currently a senior at Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis with unique skills in event planning. A Tourism, Conventions, and Event Management (TCEM) major…

Matthew Brackney

Relations Management

Matthew Brackney is 22 years old and currently a senior in IUPUI’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was born and raised in a…

Mallorie Smith

Event and Program Management

Mallorie Smith is currently a senior at Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis pursuing a Tourism, Conventions, and Event Management Bachelor’s degree with intentions of graduating in…