MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- While Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune’s children have spent the week learning about a drug-free life through Red Ribbon Week, MCCS’ Resilience Education gave adults a chance to promote the week and learn about drug abuse through the Red Ribbon Week 5K Fun Run/Walk Oct. 22.
“Most of the attention (for Red Ribbon Week) goes to school and the base’s youth,” said Robin Schoolfield, the Resilience Education branch manager. “This (Fun Run/Walk) brings this to the Marines and their families. It recognizes drug abuse prevention and gets people to talk about it.”
Red Ribbon Week began in 1988. It is a week where communities throughout the country communicate about drugs and addiction. It also commemorates the life of Enrique Camarena, a Department of Drug Enforcement agent and former Marine who was tortured and murdered by drug cartels in Mexico. His murder brought increased attention to the effects of drugs on a wide scale, which led to the creation of Red Ribbon Campaign, eventually instituting Red Ribbon Week.
The fun run gave its participants an opportunity to sweat for the cause. Approximately 100 people ran, wearing red shirts to show their support. Many ran in groups, and some pushed strollers through the finish line.
“People can get a natural high from a workout instead of using drugs,” said Amy Pinkoski, the manager of the Courthouse Bay Fitness Center, and a coordinator for the event. “People are happy, spunky and they know they can take on different obstacles after they complete even a 3-mile run. It inspires them.”
While Resilience Education provided prizes and the theme of the event, Semper Fit organized much of the day’s proceedings.
“Semper Fit supports all MCCS branches,” said Pinkoski. “That’s why we’re here today. We brought our mobile unit to bring (participants) a warm-up and motivation.”
Winners were awarded prizes such as gift cards, and all participants were given water and apples to power them through the run.
However, even the winners retained the message of the run in the forefront of their minds.
“It feels good to be a winner for this particular race,” said Staff Sgt. Alvaro Pineda who placed third in the Fun Run. “Drugs are something that have impacted many people. Awareness should be brought to them so those who need help can get it, and the world can overcome the impact of drugs.”
With a message of ‘Say no to drugs,’ the event brought attention to a subject that affects many Americans. In 2010, 22.6 million Americans used an illegal drug or abused a medication.
“It’s important to get the community talking and remove taboos from uncomfortable subjects.” said Schoolfield. “Our message is to empower the community with education.”