WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Drug Enforcement Administration is gearing up to kick off its annual Red Ribbon Campaign, the nation’s largest drug prevention effort, which launches Oct. 23.
The National Red Ribbon Campaign began after drug traffickers in Mexico tortured and brutally murdered Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena in March 1985. Red Ribbon Week is officially celebrated nationally Oct. 23-31; however, communities and school districts nationwide hold events throughout the month.
The Red Ribbon Campaign is dedicated to helping to preserve Special Agent Camarena’s memory and further the cause for which he gave his life – the fight against the violence of drug crime and the misery of addiction. By gathering together in special events and wearing red ribbons during the last week in October, Americans from all walks of life demonstrate their opposition to drugs.
Red Ribbon Week started as a local effort in Camarena’s hometown of Calexico, Calif., when former U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Camarena’s high school friend, Henry Lozano, created Camarena Clubs to keep Kiki’s memory alive. The National Family Partnership turned Red Ribbon Week into a national drug awareness campaign, an eight-day event proclaimed by the U.S. Congress and chaired by then President Ronald Reagan and Mrs. Reagan.
Approximately 80 million people participate in Red Ribbon events every year.
In advance of Red Ribbon Week, the National Red Ribbon Rally is Oct. 17 for DEA and other federal employees, drug abuse prevention partners, and members of the military. Members of the public can watch the 2018 National Red Ribbon Rally live via webcast at 11 a.m. EDT/8 a.m. PDT Wednesday, Oct. 17, at www.dea.gov and www.getsmartaboutdrugs.com.
The keynote speaker for this year’s Red Ribbon Rally will be Deputy Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy James Carroll. During the rally, DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon will recognize the winners of the 2018 DEA Community Drug Prevention Awards and the 2018 Red Ribbon Bookmark contest winners. There also will be musical performances by Eat at Joe’s from Georgetown Day High School in Washington, D.C. The emcee for the event will be NBC4’s news anchor Jim Handly.
In addition to the rally, DEA and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration are sponsoring their 3rd Annual Red Ribbon Week Campus Video PSA Contest. To learn more, visit www.campusdrugprevention.gov/psacontest. DEA also is a co-sponsor to the National Family Partnership’s 8th Annual Red Ribbon Photo Contest.
For more information on the photo contest, go to www.RedRibbon.org. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts also can earn a patch through DEA’s Red Ribbon Patch program. To learn more visit www.getsmartaboutdrugs.com/get-involved/red-ribbon-week-Patch-program.