Have you seen this guy's shoe? How a late night sparked a viral sensation and search in Schaumburg
Lucas Duffy has spent only about 48 hours in Schaumburg, but village residents have made a lasting impression on him after his social media post about a lost shoe generated hundreds of responses and launched a communitywide search.
"Schaumburg has my heart," the 23-year-old aircraft mechanic said from his hometown Martinsburg, West Virginia. "It also has my shoe."
Duffy was staying in the village for a couple of days earlier this month while working a job at O'Hare International Airport. After work one day, he and his colleagues met at the bar in their hotel, the Double Tree by Hilton Chicago-Schaumburg, moved to the nearby Beerhead Bar and Eatery, then ended up at Miller's Ale House.
They began walking back to the hotel about 1 a.m., and that's where Duffy's memory gets a bit spotty.
"At one point, I remember looking down at my feet and not having my shoe," he said.
Duffy was more preoccupied at the time with getting back to his room and going to sleep than with his footwear, a pair of On Cloud running shoes the former high school track and soccer player received from his grandmother last Christmas.
He hunted for the errant shoe early the next morning, noticing the mud on his remaining shoe and the burrs on his jacket during the search, but he had no luck before his flight home. A friend who was on a later flight also searched to no avail.
Back at home later that night, Duffy posted about the experience on the Daily Herald's "Everything Schaumburg" Facebook page, inquiring if anyone had spotted the missing footwear. He described details of the previous night's activities along with a map of his route.
"I thought it would be hilarious to post," said Duffy, who happened upon the Facebook page while searching "lost and found" and "Schaumburg."
The response was instant and overwhelming.
Strangers engaged in a kind of scavenger hunt, messaging him photographs of themselves searching fields along the route. Schaumburg resident Laura Patun and her dog Maggie headed to the area hoping Maggie's canine senses would unearth the missing shoe. Managers at Chicago Prime Italian invited anyone searching for the shoe to enjoy a meatball on the house.
One poster dubbed him Cinder-fella. Another suggested he return the same time next year for a commemorative pub crawl. And yet another offered him a place to stay when he returns.
"It's amazing," Duffy said. "I'd adore meeting these people. They are the kindest humans."
"I haven't done anything in the past where people would be flocking to my aid like this," added the self-described regular guy, who believes people responded to his quirky situation partly because it's a cheery alternative to the grim reality that typically dominates headlines.
"It's exciting. It's fun. It's lighthearted."
Karen Rose Vanderheyden, a Schaumburg native and a Chicago Marathon veteran, laughed out loud at Duffy's post -- then offered him her husband's pair of On Clouds, which she says cost about $180. Her husband agreed.
"I bought them for my husband because he was training for the marathon and I thought he would like them," she said. "He wore them a handful of times and he did not like them at all. So, I thought why not give them to this young man? All they were doing at home was sitting around and collecting dust."
The goodwill Duffy's post generated doesn't surprise the Sycamore resident.
"There are still a lot of good people in this world," she said.
Patun, of Schaumburg, bought the same shoes about two weeks ago.
"You can't cheat your feet," said the nurse educator, who after reading the post collected Maggie, a German short-haired pointer, and took up the hunt.
Patun thought it would be fun to join others trying to help Duffy.
"It's a little thing," she said. "It's not like donating a kidney. And everyone wants to make someone else happy."
Duffy says he's grateful. Determined to respond to every comment, he continues to post updates on his Instagram account at @Lucas_duffy.
And if the shoe were on the other foot, he knows what he would do: Search for the missing shoe.