The Cranston Youth Girls Basketball Association recently held a fundraiser tournament dedicated to Nancy Duffy, a Cranston native that used to assist with the CLCF GALS team.
In 2014, Duffy was diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer and passed away after a two-year battle fighting the disease. In her honor, the CYGBA, Cranston School Department, along with teams from the Rhode Island Youth Basketball Association and local businesses such as Cool Air Creations, World Trophies and The Italian Bakery, raised over $2,900 for the Dana Farber Institute - #NancyStrong to help aid its breast cancer research. New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski also donated a signed jersey, which was raffled off and won by local referee Cassie Rhodes.
“When we first started the league, we were trying to come up with something to honor her. She was a wonderful woman, she was there all day Saturday’s which started with the clinic with all the little kids, she would buy them shoes, shorts, just everything you would want in someone that runs a youth league. We never really had an opportunity to do anything for her until this year. We didn’t have many teams but we raised $2,900 which was a tremendous way to honor her,” said CYGBA Director and President PJ Thibodeau.
Eighteen teams competed in the tournament, with four coming from Cranston and the other 14 traveling from various parts of the state. Thibodeau and company appreciated the support throughout Rhode Island, especially considering the time of year.
“The travel basketball season doesn’t get busy until about mid-December, so a lot of these organizations don’t even have their teams put together so for everyone that joined in, they did it just to join the cause which was really great to see. It’s good to see so many people buy into the process and see that we can all help each other,” said Thibodeau.
More than anything, the CYGBA was thrilled to honor Duffy’s memory, as well as the entire Duffy family.
“They were thrilled, they are a really great family. Before Nancy passed away I would see her in the stands and ask how she was doing, and she would say, ‘I don’t want to talk about me, I just want to watch the kids play, that’s what makes me happy.’ That’s who she was,” said Thibodeau. “The entire family is very humble, they’re always upbeat and are always positive. In this day in age in youth sports there is a lot of negativity, but they are everything that’s right in youth sports.”
Thibodeau and the CYGBA hope to make this tournament an annual event, and to continue to do their part in helping others throughout the community.
“We hope to make this an annual thing,” said Thibodeau. “It’s good to have something set up in a youth sports organization to help get people aware and get people involved in what Dana Farber does.”