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Life-saving gift gives interim Warden second chance

Monday, March 02, 2020

ATOKA, Okla. -- A road taken can determine destiny and dictate life. Deon Clayton's journey began in Atoka, Oklahoma. He was on a football scholarship earning an education degree.

But he was approached about joining his hometown police department. This self-proclaimed “mama’s boy” was at a crossroads. 

He joked that dealing with criminals would be easier than a classroom of 6th graders. And so it began — a 40 year career in law enforcement. 

Clayton spent several years with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections before joining the Federal Bureau of Prisons. 

No roadmap could prepare Clayton for the detour he faced in 2013. He said, "The older you get, the less likely you are to get a kidney”.  He was diagnosed with catastrophic kidney failure.

Former DOC colleague and friend, Laura Beckelheimer, miraculously was a perfect match. 

“I asked why and she said because God told me to,” Clayton said. 

Deon Clayton’s life has come full circle. He’s back in Atoka as the interim Warden at Howard McLoud Correctional Center. 

His time is spent helping inmates make the most of their second chances. “They need role models and mentors like I had growing up, “Clayton said. 

His road has been bumpy & full of obstacles. But Deon Clayton is grateful & looks forward to the journey, whatever might be on the horizon. 

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