Super Bowl quarterback Matt Ryan — the reigning MVP of the National Football League — grew up in Exton, but never played in the Valor Bowl. The Ryan family, however, has a connection dating back to 2000, and they are currently more involved than ever.
Ryan’s sister, Kate Magee, is the director of Coatesville-based Believe & Achieve Foundation, which became involved in the annual all-star high school football game for Chester County seniors three years ago. Now called the Believe & Achieve Valor Bowl, the 19th annual contest will take place on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. at West Chester University’s Farrell Stadium.
The event was founded by former West Chester East football coaches Joe Carroll and Scott Allison. Proceeds will benefit the Chester County Special Olympics. Since 1999, the Valor Bowl has raised more than $500,000 in charitable contributions, and the goal for 2017 is $40,000.
“It’s a great event but it’s kind of lost a little bit of steam,” said Ryan’s father, Mike, who is helping to promote the game.
“(Carroll and Allison) have just done a fabulous job — kind of a tireless effort. They are just getting some much needed help to broaden the appeal.”
Enter the Ryan family, which has jumped into the cause “up to our eyeballs,” according to Mike, who is the president at Exton-based Linecom, Inc., a cable television services business.
“The reason we all got into this is that it’s a unique platform to do some good,” Magee said. “It’s great when we can all join forces, be together and accomplish great things. The Valor Bowl is the largest financial contributor to the Special Olympics of Chester County.”
Several years ago, Carroll and Allison were looking for a non-profit organization to help manage the administration end of things, and Believe & Achieve thought it was a great fit. Believe & Achieve’s founder, Fred Gunther of Chester Springs, had previously been a long-time sponsor of the Valor Bowl.
“Our main programs take place in Coatesville and West Chester,” Magee explained. “We provide after school and summer camp programs for families in crisis, as well as nutritional support.
“Our mission is to create experiences or opportunities for kids that would otherwise be unavailable. To think outside of the box, instill a sense of confidence and enrich their lives. The Valor Bowl is a great fit.”
Matt Ryan’s eldest brother, Motts, was a quarterback at Malvern Prep and participated in the second Valor Bowl before moving on to college ball at Widener. Matt and another brother, John, played at Penn Charter and participated in the Philadelphia City All-Star Football Game.
“I recall it vividly,” Mike said of the 2000 Valor Bowl. “Motts was all jacked up for the practices and the game. It’s a big deal. It was very exciting for our family.”
The Seventh Annual Believe & Achieve Golf Outing will be held on June 19 at Stonewall in Elverson, and Matt Ryan is scheduled to attend.
“Matt helps draw in some other sports figures, and it’s starting to gain some momentum,” Mike said.