Students celebrate drug-free living

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By Jacquelyn Stoess Hack

The students at East Oldham Middle School are celebrating Red Ribbon Week with an exciting presentation by "The Seven Project." Red Ribbon Week is the nation’s oldest and largest drug prevention program in the nation reaching millions of Americans during the last week of October every year.

By wearing red ribbons and participating in community anti-drug events, young people pledge to live a drug-free life and pay tribute to DEA Special Agent Enriqué “Kiki” Camarena. Camarena was an 11-year veteran of the DEA assigned to the Guadalajara, Mexico, office where he was on the trail of the country’s biggest marijuana and cocaine traffickers.

In 1985, he was extremely close to unlocking a multi-billion dollar drug pipeline. On Feb. 7, 1985, he was kidnapped, brutally tortured, and murdered by Mexican drug traffickers. His tragic death opened the eyes of many Americans to the dangers of drugs and the international scope of the drug trade.

Shortly after Camarena’s death, Congressman Duncan Hunter and Camarena’s high school friend Henry Lozano launched “Camarena Clubs” in Camarena’s hometown of Calexico, California.

Hundreds of club members pledged to lead drug-free lives to honor the sacrifice made by Camarena.

These pledges were delivered to First Lady Nancy Reagan at a national conference of parents combating youth drug use. Several state parent organizations then called on community groups to wear red ribbons during the last week of October as a symbol of their drug-free commitment.

The first Red Ribbon Week celebrations were held in La Mirada and Norwalk, Calif. In 1988, the National Family Partnership coordinated the first National Red Ribbon Week with President and Mrs. Reagan serving as honorary chairs. The NFP estimates that more than 80 million people participate in Red Ribbon events each year.