SCRANTON — Signs of support hanging outside Lackawanna County Prison prove breast cancer knows no boundaries.
Runners and walkers passing the jail during Saturday’s Susan G. Komen NEPA Race for the Cure will see those signs — bearing encouraging phrases such as “I Fought Like a Girl and Won,” “Don’t Give Up” and “The Women of L.C.P. Support the Cure” — which female inmates at the jail crafted today.
“I just know how big the run is in Scranton and everywhere, and I know that we have some people here who have battled (breast cancer) themselves,” said prison Population Control Officer Colleen Orzel, whose idea to make the signs was embraced by the prison administration and the inmates. “(The inmates) were so happy. They were taking it really, really seriously. ... I think it kind of gives them a sense of pride, too, to be part of the community that’s fighting (for) the cause.”
Seizing the opportunity to support survivors and contribute in a small way to the fight against the disease that about one in eight American women will develop during their lifetime, about 90 female inmates participated in the project. That represents the vast majority of the prison’s female population.
“I think it’s great for the morale of the inmate population here and it certainly helps with our staff too,” Warden Tim Betti said, noting that most people know someone who’s battled the disease. “It doesn’t matter what socioeconomic background you have, chances are you had a run in at some point in time with breast cancer.”
On one sign, bordering a hand-drawn pink heart containing the phrase “Find the Cure,” women wrote the names of friends and loved ones who fought breast cancer. On another, someone wrote the word “survivor” in marker inside an iconic pink ribbon.
For Dolly Woody, director of Susan G. Komen Greater Pennsylvania, the inmates’ notes of support suggest that the organization’s message has reached beyond the jail’s walls.
“I can tell you that I have the chills right now,” Woody said upon learning of the women’s efforts. “This is my 28th race and I’m just really, really touched by the compassion and the care that these ladies are showing, but also that the prison wants to support this initiative.”
Woody was clear that the disease does not discriminate.
“Breast cancer does not have any boundaries at all,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how rich you are, where you live, what you ate throughout your lifetime. It’s just an insidious disease that we are working every day, 24-7, 365 days a year, to try to put breast cancer out of business.”
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The Susan G. Komen NEPA Race for the Cure schedule:
n 6:30 a.m.: Race-day registration and T-shirt pickup at Peoples Security Bank parking lot on Spruce Street.
n 7 a.m.: Survivor breakfast under the Celebration of Hope tent on Spruce Street.
n 7:15 a.m.: Welcome at Pink Podium at the William J. Nealon Federal Building and United States Courthouse, North Washington Avenue.
n 7:30 a.m.: Aerobic workout at the federal building.
n 7:45 a.m.: Survivor celebration and group photo at the federal building.
n 8 a.m.: Competitive runners head to start line.
n 8:15 a.m.: Walkers head to start line.
n 8:27 a.m.: National Anthem.
n 8:30 a.m.: Official start of run/walk.
The 400 block of Linden Street, 200-300 blocks of North Washington Avenue, 100-300 blocks of Wyoming Avenue and 400-500 blocks of Spruce Street will be closed Saturday from 5 a.m. to noon for the Susan G. Komen NEPA Race for the Cure. The 500 block of Linden Street will remain closed until 9 a.m. Sunday.
Some intersections will be closed for brief periods during the race to allow runners to cross, Scranton police said.