With presentation of an oversized $10,500 check, Nevada prisons became the second-largest Northern Nevada sponsor to give money to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation during a ceremony Wednesday at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center in Carson City.
"You are up there in the celestial levels of sponsorship," said Susan Hill, Komen Foundation's Northern Nevada president, to a roomful of about 25 inmates who participated in the Race for the Cure at the prison Oct. 6. "Thank you for helping us ease the suffering and helping us to find a cure. You do make a difference."
Hill, along with five other women representing the foundation, accepted the check from Pat McGaffin, a caseworker at the prison and organizer of the walk.
McGaffin, herself a breast cancer survivor, started the prison version of the event in 2000. In their first two years of sponsored walks, in which only Northern Nevada Correctional Center participated, inmates raised $7,500.
Nevada has the only men's prisons whose inmates walk in the Race for the Cure.
This year, Stewart Conservation Camp, Silver Springs Correctional Center, Lovelock Prison, Warm Springs Correctional Center and Nevada State Prison participated as well.
Seventy-five percent of the money raised here will go to programs in Northern Nevada that treat cancer victims.
About 250 inmates joined in the walk, and on Wednesday, McGaffin singled out one inmate she called the "money man."
"Nolan Klein through family and friends raised $1,200," she said to applause.
Prison director Jackie Crawford and Warden Don Helling were also on hand.
"There is some compassion here," Crawford said. "This is the most therapeutic process -- to give something back."
Inmate Al Garcia knows all too well the ravages of cancer. His wife, Flo, died in 1995 of the disease, but even then, Garcia said, he was reluctant when McGaffin approached him two years ago to help put on the event.
"I said, 'She's got to be crazy.' You just don't do that type of thing in prison. I knew how to do riots and I knew how to do food strikes, but this was so much easier," he said.
"It's a headache and a lot of work, but the day of the race is tremendous. I feel like I've personally accomplished something."