PIMA – The sky above Pima was colored red with hundreds of balloons Monday as the Graham County Substance Abuse Coalition kicked off its anti-drug Red Ribbon Week.
Red Ribbon Week stresses the importance of being drug-free. This year, the Graham County Substance Abuse Coalition worked with the Pima School District to bring about this year’s balloon release. Kathy Grimes, director of the coalition, arrived at the school early to fill balloons with helium.
“The finishing number of balloons was about 430,” Grimes said. “We do everything we can to educate the youth of our community (because) we want them to grow up healthy and happy and drug-free. The red balloons kicked off Red Ribbon Week, and they all pledged to be drug-free.”
Grimes said this was not the first time the coalition had held a massive balloon release. Initially, Grimes wanted to hold the balloon release in Thatcher but students in that district with latex allergies put the kibosh on holding it there. Grimes considered holding the release in Safford but decided against it because of the complications resulting from the rain and hail storm at the beginning of the month. She said everything is hectic for the Safford School District as it is and didn’t want to add to the situation. Ft. Thomas was the other option, but they already planned out their Red Ribbon Week.
“One year we did it and we took all the kids out to the playground and had them spell out ‘Pima’ and then had them all launch them,” Grimes said. “We’ve done one in Fort Thomas too.”
NATIONAL RED RIBBON CAMPAIGN™
- The National Family Partnership organized the first Nationwide Red Ribbon Campaign. NFP provides drug awareness by sponsoring the annual National Red Ribbon Campaign™. Since its beginning in 1985, the Red Ribbon has touched the lives of millions of people around the world. In response to the murder of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena, 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 cause by drugs in America.
- Enrique (Kiki) Camarena was a Drug Enforcement Administration Agent who was tortured and 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, the 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 tortured to death.
- 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, 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™.