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Stripping for charity: COs make calendar for cancer awareness

The confident men of Wheatfield Prison go shirtless to raise money for the Irish Cancer Society

By Ashley Garst
C1 Associate Editor

Law enforcement is no stranger to charity work. Whether it’s completing marathons on foot or by bike, dinner events, or even just dumping leftover change into a cup, those who protect us often go above and beyond just keeping the bad guys at bay. But the lads of the Wheatfield Prison in Clondalkin, Dublin, are raising money in a slightly different fashion.

Eleven corrections officers from two facilities in Ireland will be shedding clothes in a 12-month 2014 calendar to raise money for cancer research.

(Left to right) Brian Hayes, Marcus Madden and former Donegal footballer Mick Doherty. (Photo: Facebook/Prison Service Calendar 2014)
(Left to right) Brian Hayes, Marcus Madden and former Donegal footballer Mick Doherty. (Photo: Facebook/Prison Service Calendar 2014)

“As a group we’ve never done anything like this; within Wheatfield Prison, officers have run quizzes, marathons, climbed mountains to raise money for charity,” CO Michael Doherty said. “We have an interest in training so one of the lads, whose mother is fighting cancer, came up with the idea. He asked four or five of us what we thought.

“We agreed to do it because we thought we would sell a ton in jails around Ireland, but since we opened our Facebook page everything has just gone crazy.”

Cancer charity hits home
But the fun is all for a good cause. “In Wheatfield, we’ve been hit hard recently by cancer. We have some staff at the minute fighting it, and these are popular guys,” Doherty explained.

“We also lost a colleague from cancer within the last year. We also have parents and friends who are fighting cancer.”

They’re teaming up with the Irish Cancer Society, the national charity in Ireland dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem and strives to improve the lives of those living with cancer as well. Founded in 1963, the Society is financed entirely by voluntary contributions.

“They run a great program where trained drivers pick people up and drive them to their appointments, which is great in Ireland,” Doherty said. “These small things make a massive difference to both victims and families battling cancer.” Every penny raised from the sale of the calendars will go to the society, as the prison service has offered to fund all printing fees.

One picture from the Facebook page shows gives one reason many have shown an interest in the calendar.

“Officer Hayes had to get a tan the night before because he was too worried about his white body,” Officer Doherty explained.  “He also wanted to keep his bottoms on because he has very small legs,” he jokingly added.

Comments ranged from “Holy cow! Seriously?!” to “They don’t make them like this in Cork.”

Smile for the camera
Once the idea was born, and after bullying or begging a few more coworkers to join in, the group of officers went down to the Irish Prison Services training school to begin photoshoots with the enlisted help of photographer Wayne Stokes. The Lucan photographer offered to help out the charitable cause for free.

“[Stokes] was fantastic; he knew exactly what to do,” said Officer Doherty. “Nearly all the shoots are different, but let me tell you, the December shot is something that you need to see.”

A post on Facebook updated excited readers on Thursday to the fact that the calendars are currently in printing and will be available on the Irish Cancer Society’s website in the near future. Responses varied between boasting how many they would order to declaring just where their calendar is going to go.

With such a positive response, Officer Doherty said that he and the lads would be more than happy to do this again.

“I really hope so,” he said. “I feel the IPS will love to take this on as an annual thing.”

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