To help deserving but underserved youth develop the social and emotional qualities needed for success.


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

Heather Mesalam


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…

Travis Stegemoller

Vice President

Travis Stegemoller is an attorney at Barnes & Thornburg LLP.  His practice includes advising startups and emerging companies on a wide range of transaction and financing…

Jordan Shady


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,…

Linda M. Carroll


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…

Veronica Watkins

BOD- Events, and Relations

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…

Mary Azar Callahan

BOD - Board Development and Events

 Mary Azar Callahan is the Director of Partnerships and Grants.  Mary contributes to Indy Chamber goals through investments and sponsorships for Chamber programs, with a…

Sonya Carrico

BOD - Program Development and Finance Management

  Sonya Carrico brings almost 30 years of experience in grant development and management, community collaboration and government policy development to her position as senior…

Carolyn Gentle-Genitty, PhD - IUPUI MLK Bridge Builder Award Winner

BOD - Programing

Dr. Gentle-Genitty is a passionate educator and servant leader who excels in leadership and curriculum development. She is service and student driven. She is a…

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…


Marlin Jackson

Founder & CEO

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

Lisa Mitchell

Director of Operations

Lisa Mitchell is founder of Power Body Language, a communications consulting agency, and co-founder of selfless.ly, a SaaS platform that makes it easy for organizations and…