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Cancer strikes Chickenman

Man who helps the needy, not the greedy fighting illness

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Albert Chickenman Wallace - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Albert Chickenman Wallace

One of Colorado Springs' most dedicated champions for the needy learned this month that he probably has fewer than six months to live.

"You know I'm a fighter," Albert "Chickenman" Wallace said last week before undergoing surgery to remove a tumor from his pancreas, where cancer is a notoriously swift killer.

A formerly homeless Army veteran with a heart of gold, Wallace pulled himself off the streets 10 years ago and started Good News Foundation, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the needy.

Over the years, Good News has distributed more than 90,000 Thanksgiving meals, 30,000 Christmas meals and 1,000 pairs of eyeglasses, and has sent 500 children to summer camp -- all while maintaining a year-round food and clothing bank.

Wallace now is recuperating from surgery at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Denver, but doctors tell him his cancer is incurable.

A silver-haired, baritone-voiced Alabama native in his 60s, Wallace spent 14 years here in an alcoholic stupor before pulling his life together. In 1994, he began bringing fried chicken to the homeless shelters where he used to sleep, thus earning his nickname.

He built his organization with help from donors and local groups such as the El Pomar Foundation.

Reached by telephone, volunteers at Good News reported that Wallace's surgery had been successful, but could provide no details. Nor could they speculate if Good News would continue should Wallace die.

Wallace anticipated his decline in health in an interview conducted last year. "Working for the Lord doesn't pay much," he said then. "But the retirement plan is out of this world."

-- Dan Wilcock

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