By Christene Zoucha, AA/Public Information Officer
Deuel Vocational Institution
On a recent warm summer day, inmates looking out their windows could see a large formation of custody and non-custody staff followed by motorcycle units from the Tracy Police Department heading toward the Deuel Vocational Institution’s Main Entrance Gate. They were gathering to start the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for the Special Olympics of Northern California.
The spectacle inspired one inmate to develop an idea to recruit 30 inmates serving life sentences to volunteer to participate in their own five-mile run/walk to raise funds to support the Special Olympics.
The five-mile trek was selected because the Torch Run from DVI to the Tracy Police Department was approximately five miles and they wanted to show their solidarity with the Special Olympics. Each inmate also volunteered to make a donation from their trust account to go to the Special Olympics.
The Special Olympics was collectively chosen by this group of inmates.
“As youths, most of us faced challenges, or so we thought, and we failed to overcome those obstacles and conquer those hardships by taking the easy path into a life of crime. As lifers at DVI, through self-help programs such as AA, NA, Peacemakers Alliance, GOGI (Getting Out By Going In) and anger management classes, we recognize our shortcomings and the behavior that led us down this path,” said one of the inmate organizers.
“Watching the DVI staff run the Torch Run for the Special Olympics every year for the last 10 years has inspired us lifers to break the self-imposed prison barriers and join together as one team to support such a worthy cause. If our humble donation can support an athlete who has overcome greater challenges than our own, then we are honored to help. We are thankful for this opportunity to give back and make amends to society, and hopefully make a small difference in the lives of a Special Olympian.”
Each Inmate made voluntary donations from $10 to $150 from their trust account to be donated to the Special Olympics.