MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif - -- Darren the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Lion diligently led the group of runners in some motivational stretches. The runners anxiously waited for the count down. 3 … 2 … 1: the siren blared and the crowd of runners launched from the starting line with each participant maneuvering their way through the pack.
The first Red Ribbon Week 5K run was held at the Desert Winds Golf Course, Oct. 23, 2014. Red Ribbon Week is a time when the nation promotes drug awareness and education for adults and children of this country.
“We are trying to commemorate Enrique Camarena, who represents Red Ribbon Week,” said Joven Caguioa, drug abuse prevention, Marine Corps Community Services. “Every year between Oct. 23 and Oct. 31, the whole country pauses to reflect back on drug abuse.”
Camarena was a U.S. Marine who joined the Calexico Police Department in Calexico, Calif., as a criminal investigator in 1970. In 1973, he started working as a narcotics investigator with the El Centro Police Department, where he stayed until 1974. That year, he joined the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Seven years later, he received orders to Mexico where he worked at the Guadalajara Resident Office. For four and a half years, he worked on stopping marijuana and cocaine traffickers in Mexico. In 1985 he was kidnaped and killed.
“Red Ribbon Week is about Enrique Camarena who was a DEA agent that was killed in Mexico,” said Michelle Godfrey, domestic violence prevention, MCCS. “It did not get national attention until [later that year] when First Lady Nancy Reagan declared ‘America should be drug free.’”
The Red Ribbon Week campaign was not formalized until 1988, three years after Camarena’s death.
Combat Center service members, Spouses, children, and MCCS employees participated in the race against drug use.
“They are trying to establish a drug free community,” said Staff Sgt. Shane Makary, ordinance maintenance platoon sergeant, Combat Logistics Battalion 13. “I feel that is important. It will snowball into making the community better overall.”
Godfrey and Caguioa plan to continue sponsoring Red Ribbon Week. Next year they hope to make the event larger and move from a five-kilometer race to a half marathon.
For more information in Red Ribbon Week or upcoming MCCS events, please call (760)-830- 6344.