Red Ribbon Week is a way for people and communities to unite and take a visible stand against drugs.

The Red Ribbon has touched the lives of millions of people around the world. In 1985, angered parents and youth in communities across the country began wearing Red Ribbons as a symbol of their commitment to raise awareness of the killing and destruction caused by drugs in America. It was all started in response to the death of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena.

Enrique (Kiki) Camarena was a Drug Enforcement Administration Agent who was killed in Mexico in 1985. When he decided to join the US Drug Enforcement Administration, his mother tried to talk him out of it. "I'm only one person", he told her, "but I want to make a difference."

On Feb. 7, 1985, 37-year-old Camarena left his office to meet his wife for lunch. Five men appeared at the agent's side and shoved him in a car. One month later, Camarena's body was found. He had been brutally murdered.

In honor of Camarena's memory and his battle against illegal drugs, friends and neighbors began to wear red badges of satin. Parents, sick of the destruction of alcohol and other drugs, had begun forming coalitions. Some of these new coalitions took Camarena as their model and embraced his belief that one person can make a difference. These coalitions also adopted the symbol of Camarena's memory, the red ribbon.

In 1988, The National Family Partnership (NFP) sponsored the first National Red Ribbon Celebration. Today, the Red Ribbon serves as a catalyst to mobilize communities to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities. Since that time, the campaign has reached millions of U.S. children and families. The NFP and its network of individuals and organizations continue to deliver his message of hope to millions of people every year, through the National Red Ribbon Campaign.

Substance abuse is a serious issue that affects roughly 22 million Americans. Though we have a long way to go in the battle against substance abuse, Red Ribbon Week is a great way to start by increasing awareness and making resources for prevention more easily available.

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Libby Griffith
1(866) 735-0921 Ext 108