Inmates donate record high to American Cancer Society

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Local inmates are donating a record amount to the American Cancer Society. It's all part of the Decatur Correctional Center's annual Relay For Life benefit.

It's an event that's been going on for a number of years. It's an evening filled with a symbolic walk, guest speakers and music, but this year the Decatur Correctional Center has the most participants and raised the most money ever. It's all for a cause that touches so many of the women on a personal level.

Pat Johnson is a cancer survivor.

"I don't think I would be a survivor without the American Cancer Society," she said.

She was diagnosed twice with breast cancer while an inmate at the Illinois Department of Corrections.

She and almost four hundred other inmates donated a total of just over $1,000 to the American Cancer Society for their Relay For Life event.

"Even though it's not a lot of money, every little money that we have," said inmate Rose Overstreet. "We just want to do what we can."

Like donating these bags, referred to as lumineers, for $2 each, paid for with the small sum inmates get each month.

"State pay is usually $15, so donating anything for them is a big deal," Johnson explained.

They are dedicated to special individuals, like Johnson, who received 17 lumineers last year.

"It was extraordinary and when I think about it it still is and I still have the bags," Johnson said.

And the event carrying extraordinary meaning for all of the women.

"This makes me not feel just like an inmate," Overstreet said.

As for Johnson, she's feeling fortunate and hopeful for the future.

"Hopefully the American Cancer Society will find a magic pill and, um, and you just take the magic pill and you won't get breast cancer," Johnson said.

And each dollar is a step toward a cure.

The women also raised money for Hurricane Sandy victims. In that case, in order to raise money, they had bingo cards, not bags, for two dollars each. Center officials said they donated about $900.

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