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By Lt. Rosie Thomas, AA/PIO
California Institution for Women
California Institution for Women staff members and inmates recently raised more than $43,000 to fight breast cancer.
On April 1, 2016, the California Institution for Women (CIW) made a commitment to participate in the Avon 39 Breast Cancer Walk in Santa Barbara, on
September 10-11, 2016, to support the fight against breast cancer.
CIW established the Lockdown for a Cure team, 25 staff led by team captain Correctional Officer M. Arana-Serrano and 276 inmates led by the Women’s Advisory Council (WAC) Executive Body.
The team participated in the Avon 39 Breast Cancer Walk in Santa Barbara in early September.
Avon 39 staff members Dana Szczepaniak and Logan Moore worked with team members along the way answering questions and providing their support. They were also instrumental in waiving the entrance fee for the inmates to participate.
Avon 39 provided each inmate with their own website on the Avon 39 homepage to receive donations for the Lockdown for a Cure team.
On Sept. 10, 2016 the Avon 39 cancer walk commenced with staff walking in
Santa Barbra and the inmates simultaneously walking on the recreation field at the institution. The Lockdown for a Cure team worked as a team in Santa Barbara and left no one behind.
By the end of the walk everyone knew who Lockdown for a Cure was. The pink-and-black jerseys they wore stood out among the participants and the team spirit was visible.
Many participants and members of the community reached out to the team to thank team members for their support and for assisting other participants along the way.
Officer T. Santos’ daughter is currently battling cancer and she finished the race for her.
On the first day, The CIW Lockdown for a Cure team started in downtown Santa Barbara and waked 26.2 miles to a base camp where some participants stayed in pink tents overnight. The next day on Sunday, all participants started walking from the base camp the last 13.1 miles to the finish line in Carpinteria.
The team also received a special surprise; they met Avon 39 staff members Dana and Logan face to face to say thank you for all their support.
At CIW, the inmates Avon 39 cancer walk was also a success. Staff and WAC worked together for months preparing.
The Prison Industry Authority (PIA) donated water bottles and food supplies. PIA Carpentry program built seven booths for the event and CAL Fire donated Gatorade.
The two-day walk was a day of celebration as inmate volunteers, CIW staff, Inmate Family Council members and Citizen Advisory Committee members worked together to support the participants on the recreation field. The event started with the Star Spangle Banner followed by the Honor Guard walking the first lap with cancer survivors second in line.
On Sunday the inmates gave tribute to all inmates and staff who served in the armed forces as a remembrance of 9/11.
The musical and comedy entertainment was provided to the inmate population by Sal Rodriguez with Shofar, Marcos Reys with War, singer Norman Carter with the Delfonics and comedian Gilbert Esquivel.
Avon 39 was an unforgettable experience for all parties involved. CIW came together as one and worked as a team.