By Mandy Coriston
The Richards Building at the Sussex County Fairgrounds was overflowing with friends, family, and good cheer on Saturday, Feb 15, as 600 supporters gathered to raise funds for retired Byram Polilce Officer and Lakeland EMS member Joseph “Todd” Duffy as he battles amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease). The beefsteak dinner, an annual fundraiser for the Sussex County Police Benevolent Association (PBA), was dedicated to aiding Duffy and his family after a legal battle over his benefits left a gap in coverage for his medications.
The dinner was attended by local and state law enforcement, regional and state PBA representatives, area politicians and officials, dozens of friends and family members, and private citizens. The event also featured live music and tricky tray raffles, with an invocation by the Rev. Hugh Matlack, chaplain for the Byram Township Police Department, and a processional performed by a contingent from the Police Pipes and Drums of Morris County.
Byram Patrolman John D’Onofrio served many years with Duffy and assisted with ticketing for the event. He spoke about his friend as he handed out admittance wristbands.
“This is all about Duffy, and if the tables were turned, he’d do the same,” Donofrio said, “It’s all about WWDD; what would Duffy do? He’d do this, and more.”
Duffy was able to attend in person, his wheelchair positioned at the side of the room where he could see the assembled crowd. Nearby, a projector played a slideshow of highlights from his career in law enforcement and with the first aid squad, as well as personal photographs.
Duffy’s wife Jen said they were beyond overwhelmed with the kindness shown by all in attendance, and by the community at large.
“This is hard to take in,” she said. “This is such true testament to the support we’ve received, and I’m so glad he was feeling well enough to come. I wanted Todd to be able to see the impact he’s had on people’s lives.”
While Jen Duffy was speaking, Todd, who now communicates with the aid of a computer, interrupted her, quoting Lou Gehrig’s famous Yankee Stadium farewell speech.
“I consider myself the luckiest man in the world,” he typed.
Those who could not attend the dinner but would like to assist the Duffy family can visit www.gofundme.com/f/Donating-to-Duffy-by-PBA-Local-138 to donate. All proceeds will go towards offsetting expenses incurred during Todd’s treatment.