Editor's Note: This is a press release from SUNY Cortland.
Valor is defined as the strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to encounter danger with firmness.
It is a definition that aptly describes the character of SUNY Cortland senior Kyle Richard.
The State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) will present Richard with its Award of Valor in May at its annual awards banquet in Syracuse.
Richard was at a party with friends on Long Island during the summer of 2017 when they heard noise coming from inside a bathroom. After interrupting a sexual assault, Richard pursued the assailant and was shot once in each leg.
A linebacker who was named team captain after his sophomore season, he recovered in time to return to the football field for the second game of the 2017 season.
Richard has become an advocate for bystander intervention since going public with his story in 2018. He has delivered presentations on the topic at Utica College, Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J. and SUNY Maritime. SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson invited him to serve as student representative of the 600,000-student SUNY system at her inauguration in September 2018.
The SUNYAC Award of Valor is the latest in a number of awards he has received from local and national organizations. He was presented with a Next Generation Award from Kristin’s Fund, an Oneida County charity that aims to end domestic violence through prevention, education and awareness campaigns. Former Vice President Joe Biden honored Richard with a Biden Courage Award for Bystander Intervention through It’s On Us and the Biden Foundation. The Football Writers Association of America named him the recipient of the 2018 Orange Bowl Courage Award. He was the first Division III nominee for the award since its inception in 2002.
Richard’s story has drawn major media attention as well. He was featured in print and video on ESPN in November 2018, with a package airing on SportsCenter the morning of the 60th annual Cortaca Jug game against Ithaca College.
A native of Lakeview, N.Y., Richard, a kinesiology major, made a total of 71 tackles for the Red Dragons this past season, helping lead the team to a 7-3 record. He finished his career with 171 tackles, 5.0 sacks and one intercepted pass returned for a touchdown.
The SUNYAC Award of Valor has been awarded annually since 2003, with exceptions in 2009, 2012 and 2013. Richard is the first SUNY Cortland student athlete to receive the award. It is presented to individuals who has displayed an ability to overcome obstacles and serve as an inspiration to others. Recipients must have shown perseverance, dedication and determination to overcome a life-altering event.