Lyalls react to 'Cleveland Miracle'

Posted at: 05/07/2013 11:39 PM
By: Dan Levy

JACKSONVILLE, FL - Few missing persons cases have generated more attention in the Capital Region than that of Suzanne Lyall. Tuesday night Suzanne's parents, Doug and Mary Lyall, weighed in on what they call the 'Cleveland Miracle'.

It's been more than fifteen years since 19-year old Suzanne Lyall disappeared without a trace, last seen on the campus at the University at Albany. Every time a missing persons case pops up in the news, it grabs the attention of Doug and Mary Lyall. When three women were rescued in Cleveland this week, after a decade of captivity, it marked a significant attention-grabbing event for the Lyalls.

For Doug and Mary Lyall, life has never returned to normal, not since March 2, 1998, when their daughter mysteriously vanished. When news of the 'Cleveland Miracle' reached the grief-stricken Lyalls, they were in Jacksonville, Florida, attending a conference with other families of missing loved ones. Their initial reaction?

"It was amazing," Doug Lyall said, "Among the families that we met with who had missing people, it was just people who related, and it just renews hope."

"It still gives you hope that maybe one day my daughter will return too," Mary Lyall added.

For the Lyalls, the word hope carries a double meaning. They co-founded the Center for HOPE, a local non-profit, which has earned a national reputation as a beacon for families coping with unexplained disappearances. For those families, HOPE is an acronym for Healing Our Painful Emotions.

Keeping hope alive is what the Lyalls have been doing for themselves and others for more than fifteen years, every day of their lives, with every once of their being. Cleveland helps re-energize the hope.

"I keep hope alive by trying to be positive and not look back on those things that you can't really control," Doug reflects.

Cleveland also helps remind the Lyalls about a painful lesson they've spent the last fifteen years teaching themselves not to forget.

"Never give up, when you think it's all going to end, there's a lot of despair and then look at what happened yesterday, that's just incredible," Mary said.

"it's a miracle," Doug added. "It proves to me that miracles happen and never give up unless you know absolutely that your loved one is not coming back."

In addition to being the driving force behind the establishment of Missing Persons Day in New York State, the Lyalls were also instrumental in bringing about the Missing Persons Alert System along the New York State Thruway.

They also helped bring about missing persons profiles on state tax forms, and the were the catalysts for federal legislation known as Suzanne's Law, which requires police agencies across the country to notify the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) any time a person between the ages of 18 and 21 goes missing.