Under banner names like Victorious Cancer Crushers, One Step at a Time, Stamp it Out and Ellie’s Angels, inmates at the Washington Corrections Center for Women poured their hearts, energy and resolve in participating with the national Relay for Life last month. The relay, dedicated to finding cures for cancer, is held each June throughout the country. All funds raised through the effort go directly to cancer research.
“We inmates at WCCW support RFL by participating in this national event,” said Renee Curtiss. “The goal is to raise $10,000 for cancer (research). Some inmates walk for loved ones and some are cancer survivors themselves. There is a cancer support group through Mental Health facilitated by inmates (at WCCW).”
For inmates Kisha Fisher and Keidra Lewis, “We appreciate donating because we have cancer patients in our families. I have many family members who have passed in the past couple of years, and being incarcerated has made me see how much family and community support is important. This event is very special.”
“What we love about this experience is that in our situation we are still able to walk for the ones we love who have been through cancer and beat it. Also, for the ones we love who have not,” said inmates Natosha Pereira, Belinda Williams and Latonya Stuckey during a conversation on the prison’s grounds.
“We are able to honor them and show our love for them, although we can’t be with them,” Stuckey added. “This is my third walk. It’s for a great cause, and I had a great time.”
Melissa Johnson, WCCW’s Public Disclosure coordinator and public information officer and legal liaison, added a moving note from Williams: “I have participated in each walk WCCW has had, (and) it’s the right thing to do. I do it because we have a long family history of cancer in my family. I lost both of my grandparents and great grandparents to cancer. I not only walk for those who have passed, but those who have survived. I am a survivor and recently had a lump removed.”
“I walked for my family,” Raven Pierce said. “My grandmother passed away from cancer and my aunt’s friend, who is a friend of the family, is currently fighting this disease. I find that this is a way I can give back.”
The relay was conducted under a slightly overcast skies, which kept temperatures at a modest level. The inmates also engaged in contests such as a three-legged and wheelbarrow races. Modest prizes were awarded to the winners.
All participants also enjoyed a barbecue dinner prepared on the spot by WCCW volunteer Rita Miller, Correctional Officer Deborah Roan, WCCW Family Council member Cathy Wood, volunteer Janice Miller, offender Angela Ferguson, offender Michelle Gunderson and Family Council member Bryan Purkis.