CO IV Derek Alvarez Story

How has being involved in the Arizona Law Enforcement Torch Run impacted your life?

Working in law enforcement especially at the prison, you tend to see people who have chosen a path that leads to the worst possible results. These inmates have lived a life full of violence, drugs, and alcohol, and they end up incarcerated, separated from their families. The sad part of this is so many of these inmates are so young, and they are looking for someone to guide them, and they often get the wrong guidance from other inmates. One thing all inmates love to do is eat food from the outside the walls, like Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, Burger King, etc. We would have food fundraisers from these restaurants and the proceeds would support Special Olympics. The inmates were getting all this great food, but they did not really know how, or whom it was benefiting. A few years ago, Josh called me and asked if we have a Special Olympian come into the prison and talk to the inmates about all the support they were giving them.  As a whole, the Department of Corrections had donated over $500,000 to Special Olympics. We completed the proper authorization and it was granted.

June of 2014 was life changing for me. A man by the name of Jeff Steron, a Special Olympian stepped into our lives and it has never been the same since. He walked into the units with confidence and pride, and talked about the many challenges he has overcome and the many medals he has won. He talked about how the r-word hurts so much, and he was not afraid to let the tears run down his cheek when he said this. These tough inmates were finally touched by something real. I saw tears in the eyes of inmates as they watched a real person talk about life’s challenges, and how they were able to overcome them in such an amazing way. The inmates learned that day that Jeff was not alone in his journey and that their support and participation in the fundraisers for Special Olympics  were a big reason he and so many others were allowed to rise to greatness.  I am so glad I had the opportunity to meet Jeff. Since then other wonderful Olympians have visited us.  Their visits were so awesome, but you always remember the ones that were not afraid to lay it all on the table. Ever since that day, I have not been afraid to lay it all on the table and strive for greatness no matter what the challenges.

Is there a specific athlete that has had a significant impact? If yes, who is that athlete and how have they impacted your life?

Jeff, as mentioned above

In what ways have you been involved with LETR?

I have had the privilege to be the Coordinator the Arizona State Prison Complex – Douglas for over ten years.

What would you say to people to get them more involved with LETR?

Don’t be afraid to lay it all on the table! Let’s get out there and help those that have the drive to make this world a better place. These champions do this one medal at a time, one hug at a time, one smile at a time, and the most awesome part of it all is they don’t expect anything in return except for your support.

- CO IV Derek Alvarez, Arizona State Prison Complex – Douglas


Return to Impact of LETR Page