By Rick Scavetta, IMCOMOctober 17, 2011
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- Hundreds of service members, government civilians and families are expected Saturday at this year's Red Ribbon Run at Rhine Ordnance Barracks.
The awareness-raising event, sponsored by U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern, has been celebrated in Kaiserslautern since 2007. It offers members of the entire Kaiserslautern Military Community to come together and reaffirm a pledge to be drug free and alcohol responsible, said Crystal Malloy, a garrison prevention coordinator, whose overseen planning for the event.
"It helps people focus physically, psychologically and emotionally about making a commitment to a drug-free, healthy lifestyle," Malloy said. "When they are out there pounding that pavement, it give people a chance to dedicate themselves and be responsible for themselves and their families to commit to this."
Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., for both runners and walkers. Pets are welcome at the event. At 9:30 a.m., the events starts with the singing of the German and American national anthems, remarks from senior leaders and a ceremonial cake cutting. Walkers depart at 9:45 a.m., followed by runners at 10 a.m.
The run has five age categories, to include a run for children under 12. Each race will have first and second place individual winners. Prizes include trophies and trip vouchers. Local units compete for participation awards. Last year, U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern took that trophy, but this year stiff competition from U.S. Air Force units, Malloy said.
Red Ribbon Week is a national observance that encourages people to take a stand against drugs and alcohol. On Oct. 15, Soldiers and local teenagers kicked off Red Ribbon Week with a flash mob at the food court on Ramstein Air Base. Kaiserslautern Middle School students also held one acts plays Friday about teens shunning drugs and alcohol in the community.
Each year, the garrison's Army Substance Abuse Program sponsors the Kaiserslautern run -- one of the community's largest awareness events. Last year, more than 2,400 people took part in the fun run, to include 978 runners and 757 walkers. More than 70 dogs accompanied their owners in both the walk and the run. Eleven units participated.
Over the past few months, dozens of garrison staff have been involved in the planning this year's event. Family Readiness Groups will offer snacks -- everything from healthy foods to sweets. Younger kids can hop on bouncy castles. Others can meet their favorite Star Wars character -- courtesy of a local German club.
While the run is the main event, the entire morning looks more like a mini-festival without alcohol, setting and example to young people that they can have a great time without drinking, Malloy said.