Record numbers run for Red Ribbon Week at Kaiserslautern
October 30, 2008
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany - Soldiers, civilians and family members of the 5th Quartermaster Company kept their promise during the U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern's Red Ribbon Relay held on the nearby Vogelweh track Oct. 25.
"We met our goal - to participate and support this awesome event and dominate it," said Capt. Joislyn Carrasquillo, the 5th QM Co. commander.
Dominate they did - winning unit trophies for most laps and participants. The unit's 85 Soldiers, civilians and family members ran 2,334 laps - or about 583 miles - keeping the beat of the promised loud cadence of "Airborne," the unit's motto. Carrasquillo never left the track during the three-hour event, logging in 72 laps or 18 miles.
This is the second year the garrison's Army Substance Abuse Program has sponsored the event in support of Red Ribbon Week - a national observance that encourages everyone in the community to take a visible stand against drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
"Everybody was here; it was awesome," said Heather Robinson, the garrison's ASAP coordinator, who initiated this relay as a way to get the whole Kaiserslautern military community involved.
A record number of 630 Soldiers, Airmen, retirees, civilians and their family members from 13 agencies and units ran a combined total of 10,044 laps, roughly 2,500 miles. This is more than double the number of people who participated last year.
"I really liked the family and unit cohesion that was here today," said Staff Sgt. KaMesha Edwards, of garrison's pass office, and who brought her three children to the event. "This (USAG Kaiserslautern) is an awesome unit - to be so small - and the way we got together to do this event - I think it's awesome."
Close to 70 community members volunteered, and there were 14 information and food booths
"The relay fits into (Red Ribbon Week) as a community effort - a grassroots program - that all these local agencies combine their efforts to show manpower on the track reinforcing the message of a drug-free community," said Robinson.
A new award this year was given to the unit that had the most average laps per runner.
The first unit to receive this award was the 39th Transportation Battalion with each runner averaging 14.8 laps. The 53rd Signal Battalion had only 10 participants, but with a 13-laps-per-person tally, the group still took home second place.
Also new this year was individual awards given to the male and female who ran the most laps in eight age categories, with a total of 16 individual trophies awarded.
Showing manpower on the track for the first time was the 431st Air Base Group from Kapaun Air Station - marking the first Air Force unit to participate in the relay.
"It's a one-team-one-fight operation - Soldiers, Airmen and civilians - to show folks there are alternatives to drugs," said Chief Master Sgt. Dale Brocious, 431st ABG superintendent. "It's a great thing to come out and show awareness."
Brocious said his team had a developed a strategy: 30-minute increments of eight people running at one time. The team's total was 600 laps or about 150 miles.
The Red Ribbon campaign was started when drug traffickers in Mexico City murdered Kiki Camarena, an undercover drug enforcement officer in 1985. Within weeks of his death, Special Agent Camarena's Congressman and a high school friend launched Camarena Clubs in his hometown of Imperial Valley, Calif. The tradition of making pledges to lead drug-free lives and wearing read badges of satin - red ribbons - as a symbol of Special Agent Camarena's memory was created at these clubs.
Eventually, Red Ribbon Week became a nationally recognized observance to honor Special Agent Camarena and reduce demand for drugs through prevention and education programs.