In 1985, when she was 53 years old, Lucy Duffy's husband Alan was diagnosed with leukemia. To help herself cope with the stress of Alan's illness and the dramatic changes it brought to their lives, Lucy turned to running. By 1986, Alan was in remission, and she felt the need to do something positive to honor his struggle with cancer. Lucy ran the 1986 New York City Marathon wearing a t-shirt which declared that she was running in honor of her husband, who was fighting leukemia. All along the course of the 26.2 mile race, Lucy handed out flyers to the crowd, asking for donations in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The response was phenomenal. Within a week after the marathon, Lucy had received over $22,000 in donations for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Aside from the tremendous amount of money she had raised, Lucy's fundraising efforts had a wider effect than she could have supposed. In 1988, inspired by Lucy and Alan's story, Bruce Cleland organized a team of running partners who trained for the New York City Marathon while raising funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in honor of Bruce's cancer-stricken daughter Georgia. The group raised more than $320,000. Other groups were organized throughout the country, and currently over 30,000 people participate annually in what is now known as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training program.
Alan Duffy's cancer returned, and he died in 1986, a month after Lucy completed the New York City Marathon. Despite this tragedy, Lucy has continued to run marathons and shorter distance races to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She is currently 68 years old, and this year will compete in her 4th Senior Olympics.