By Lance Eshelman, Community Resources Manager
Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility
Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility (RJD) staff gathered in unity with the community of San Diego on a cool autumn morning in the urban cultural Balboa Park to join the Making Strides Against Cancer 5k walk. This event helped raise $650,000 toward breast cancer research and patient assistance. Participants also built awareness by sharing stories with survivors and those who have had loved ones lost.
“What an honor it is to be part of a team that brings people together in an effort to make a difference,” said Joe Stewart, Chief Deputy Warden (A), as the all-volunteer team gathered together in the morning to prepare for the walk.
The opening ceremony kicked off the event at 7:30 a.m. and 28,000 walkers began their journey. Team RJD walked in unison and shared support for those in the group as well as those folks around the group. The harmony of the day was palpable when strangers were no longer strangers and friends and co-workers were no longer co-workers, but family.
Volunteers handed out water and assisted with traffic flow, encouraging all in attendance to keep up the fight. Cheerleaders were scattered throughout the route creating tunnels of enthusiasm. Walkers continued on to State Route 163, normally consisting of a moderate traffic flow, but on the day of the walk, vehicles were replaced with a pink wave of hope. Cars heading southbound honked as they drove by the walkers to share their support.
Team RJD paused for a picture with the finish line ahead to symbolize that hope should not be lost when victory is so close. With such a successful and impactful turnout, Making Strides of San Diego can expect Team RJD to continue showing up and showing their support!
To learn more about how to help, visit the American Cancer Society’s website at https://www.cancer.org/involved.html. (May not be accessible from a CDCR computer.)
Children’s hospital gets help from VSP, PVSP
By Lt. Ron Ladd, AA/PIO
Valley State Prison
Valley State Prison (VSP) and Pleasant Valley State Prison (PVSP), in coordination with Amy Russo of Valley Children’s Hospital Child (VCH) Life Specialist, partnered to deliver over $3,000 in toys and cash to the hospital.
VSP staff, Community Resources OT Kayla Boyd, Community Resources Manager Carmen Maroney and Lt. Ron Ladd, worked with PVSP Use of Force Coordinator/ Employee Action Committee Secretary Monica Garcia; Chief Deputy Warden OT Laura Gillespie and Capt. Ray Kuhn to collect donations.They were delivered in September.
To coincide with Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month, Jennifer and Jonas Anderson started Super September in memory of their daughter, Isabel, who lost her battle with a rare fetal brain tumor in May 2015.
As part of Super September, the Andersons collect books, toys and money from local agencies and area donation bins. In early October, or when local hospitals can schedule them, Jennifer and Jonas dress in superhero costumes to visit children in oncology units and deliver toys. Their dedicated efforts help put smiles on hundreds of faces who are affected from cancer.
“I’ve been to the ER, Apollo, Explorer, PICU, NICU, craycroft and the playground and playroom. It’s always good to distract the kids from their reality….I like to remember these kids. It’s always hard for me to sleep on the day I visit. I wonder how the kids are (and) wonder if they are playing with the toys,” said Jennifer.