DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) – More than 100 female prison inmates at the Decatur Correctional Center joined together in the fight against cancer Thursday evening.

The 163 inmates walked the center’s halls as part of their annual Relay for Life event. The walk symbolizes a patient’s journey through cancer.

“I have an aunt that’s in remission for breast cancer,” said inmate Najei Webster. “I’ve lost my grandfather to bone cancer, and I’ve lost an auntie to breast cancer, so it’s means a lot to me.”

“She was my best friend,” said Nancy Gilson, speaking of her friend Deborah, who passed away from cancer. “She was like a sister to me, and I miss her dearly.”

The floors of the halls were lined with luminaria bags the inmates decorated in honor of their loved ones lost to cancer. Additionally, the inmates made donations to the American Cancer Society.

“It gives the girls an opportunity to give back, in addition for them to be able to show their care and love and concern for their loved ones that they may have lost,” said Warden Marlo Butler-Jones.

“Cancer is an ugly word, and I think every little dollar counts,” Gilson said.

“It can happen to anyone, so always help, help out when you can, and you never know whose life you can save,” Webster said.

The Relay for Life is the American Cancer Society’s signature fundraiser. Of extra significance to the Decatur Correctional Center, it was the first prison to ever hold the event 15 years ago.

“It’s very huge for us to be able to do this every year and to continue to get the girls to be willing to donate toward the cause,” Butler-Jones said.

The inmates were able to raise over $1,000 for the cause.

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