Prisoners walk nets $14K for Carson Advocates for Cancer Care

Prison inmates will donate $14,000 to a cancer-care assistance group today, two months after some 450 female and male prisoners walked or ran laps to raise money.

"I really want to see the guys recognized," said Pat McGaffin, a case worker for Nevada Department of Corrections. "They love (the walkathon). It's exciting."

This afternoon, a check will be given to Pat Williams, president of the board of Carson Advocates for Cancer Care. The nonprofit provides assistance for people diagnosed with cancer who are struggling to pay their bills.

"Typically, we do not have donations this large," said Williams. "We have a fundraiser we do every January called 'Winter Wine and All That Jazz' where we raise from $25,000 to $30,000. This 14 grand we are getting from the inmates is very significant."

Some of the men attending today's event are from prison groups of Vietnam Veterans of America, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the 12-step group and the street-readiness program. Warden Don Helling and Prison Director Glen Whorton will also attend.

Prisoners have walked for cancer for the past six years. The first four years' proceeds, totaling $35,600, went to the Susan G. Komen Foundation. Last year, Carson Advocates for Cancer Care became the recipient.

"The beautiful thing about CACC is 95, almost 96 percent, of all funds raised go to patient care," said McGaffin. "I went over their books myself and came back to the inmate committee, and we said, 'Let's do it.'"

Some $22,000 was given to Carson Advocates last year - money coming from the walkathon and sales from inmates' crafts. Cancer Advocates has given lectures to inmates on melanoma, prostate cancer and other cancers.

Prisoners at Lovelock, Warm Springs, Nevada State Prison, Stewart and Silver Springs, and Northern Nevada Correctional Center participated in this year's walkathon, but much of the proceeds came from staff.

"They are enormous contributors," McGaffin said. "They sponsor the guys. I've had staff write checks for $50 to $100."

Cancer Advocates assists between 40 and 50 clients a month. It receives grant money from the Fund for a Healthy Nevada. In November, 14 percent of clients were age 17 or under, 58 percent were ages 18-64, and 28 percent were 65 and over.

"What we like to do is get a person through treatment and back on their feet so they can assume responsibility for their bills," said Williams. "There are some people who never go back to work. We are very flexible. It depends on the type of cancer, the stage of the cancer, the nature of their treatments."

Carson Advocates for Cancer Care can be reached by calling 883-7477 or call the Carson Tahoe Cancer Resource Center at 885-4281.

n Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at or 881-1219.


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