Early Sunday morning, surrounded by balloons and razor wire, 200 inmates at the Northern Nevada Correctional Center began walking in circles around a dirt track.
Some did it to remember family members, and some did it for the fresh air, but they all shared the same goal, to raise money for those suffering from cancer.
"Cancer is something I've never had in my family, but any cure we can find for not just cancer, but any disease is worth it. If I can help with even one, that's beautiful, that's why I participate," said inmate William Scott, who helped organize the event.
The 200 inmates at NNCC joined 400 more from five other prisons in the state to participate in the sixth annual walkathon for cancer and to raise money for Carson Advocates for Cancer Care. The CACC provides financial support for medical treatment, housing and transportation for cancer patients.
"The neatest thing is when you are signing people up and you hear all the stories they have about cancer and how it's impacted their families and their lives," said Pat McGaffin, correctional casework specialist at NNCC and CACC board member.
In the last five years, the event has raised more than $55,000 for cancer research and support, including more than $22,000 in 2004. All money raised is donated to the local charities in support of cancer patients and their families.
The inmates, family members and staff of the facilities make donations and sponsor racers. The NDOC prisons have been recognized as the only men's prisons to raise funds for breast cancer awareness.
Warden Don Helling said the event is uplifting to the inmates.
"It helps them to connect to the community, helps them give back to the community, and makes them feel good that they can do that," said Helling. "It's a positive in a place with a lot of negatives."
During the race, inmates received water, juice and brownies while listening to the music of five bands made up of their fellow inmates in every genre, from country to jazz. After the event, the inmates were treated to a barbecue on the grounds.
"A lot of the credit goes to the inmates for what they have done. They did the work to get the participants to donate money," said Patrick Williams, president of the CACC board of directors.
Glen McGinnis, an inmate and one of the event directors, said it's about more than just raising money for the inmates.
"It's an opportunity to give something back," McGinnis said. "And seeing everyone enjoying themselves and seeing everyone happy. This is prison, and you rarely see everybody happy."
n Contact reporter Jarid Shipley at email@example.com or 881-1217.