Volunteering with NYRR Helped Nancy Long Battle Her Depression

Volunteering with NYRR Helped Nancy Long Battle Her Depression

Nancy Long moved from Chicago to New York City in 2001 for school. By the time she had earned her degree in criminal justice, she had fallen in love with the city so much that she decided to stay and start her career.

Unfortunately, like many others at the time, Nancy's life was thrown off by the financial crisis in 2008. Unable to find a job in her field, she took jobs in retail to pay the bills. By 2012, Nancy was struggling with depression and was looking for a way to change her life. 

Volunteering at the 2012 Empire State Building Run-Up [today, New York Road Runners no longer organizes the event] was the perfect answer. “Being a New York transplant and never having visited the Empire State Building, this event was a good excuse," says Nancy. "It also helped me meet other people and make some more friends.” 

After this first experience, Nancy realized that volunteering with NYRR regularly would give her the chance to explore the city she had chosen to be her home and meet more potential friends.

 Nancy Long (third from the left) is ready to help thousands of runners recover post-race.

Nancy Long (third from the left) is ready to help thousands of runners recover post-race.

What Nancy did not realize was how it would affect her personally. The more she volunteered, the more her self-confidence grew. She became more assertive, and eventually found herself as a team leader, something she had never thought she would do. She finally had a way to focus her energy on something positive.

Nancy now credits her volunteer experiences for being a factor in managing her depression. “I can honestly say if it wasn’t for NYRR, I probably wouldn’t have been able to cope as well as I did," she says. "I was able to get my life back." 

Six years later, Nancy is on her way to becoming a Certified Pharmacy Technician. When she's not working at Walgreens, she crochets for charity and raises funds for assisted living, nursing, and child care facilities in her community in addition to volunteering with NYRR.

Nancy has a long list of favorite memories from NYRR events, but her absolute favorite came from the TCS New York City Marathon in 2014, when she was a team leader on the Manhattan side of the Queensboro Bridge.

“That year, I was able to see a friend run, aid a runner who was showing signs of cramping, get a hug and kiss from an enthusiastic Swedish runner, and help a runner who had fallen face down,” she recalls.

Nancy’s story is more than one of volunteerism. It's one of inspiration, resilience, and recovery. NYRR is honored to have her as a member of its volunteer family. 


Celebrate Volunteer Appreciation Month! Learn more about volunteering with New York Road Runners.

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