Red Ribbon origins honored

Messenger photo by Kristy Zurbrick

Samantha Barnes (left) and Tracy Sweigart tie ribbons to trees outside London High School. The seniors are members of BOLD (Building Our Lives Drug-Free), the student group that led Red Ribbon Week activities Oct. 22-26.

While investigating a Mexican drug cartel in 1985, Enrique Camarena, an officer with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, was kidnapped and killed. To honor his memory and his fight against illegal drugs, Camarena’s friends began wearing badges of red satin. Coalitions of parents fed up with substance abuse took inspiration from Camarena’s attempt to make a difference and adopted the red ribbon as their symbol. In 1988, national Red Ribbon Week began.

Last week, students in London High School’s Building Our Lives Drug-Free (BOLD) chapter paid tribute to Red Ribbon Week’s origins by treating law enforcement officials to breakfast on Oct. 22.

“They seemed so appreciative that someone remembered to thank them,” said Mary Dietz, BOLD advisor.

Law enforcement officials who attended the breakfast included: Sheriff Jim Sabin, Lt. Doug Crabbe, Lt. Bob Henry, Sgt. John Swaney and Dep. Brian Huddleston, Madison County Sheriff’s Department; Sgt. Elizabeth Berry and Lt. Kenneth Ward Jr., Ohio State Highway Patrol Post; Special Agent Supervisor Fred Moore and Special Agent Jon Dozer, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation’s Narcotics/Tech Op Unit; and Chief Peter Tobin, Sgt. David Litchfield and Patrolman Brad Aleshire, London Police Department.

At the breakfast, London Mayor David Eades presented a proclamation designating Oct. 22-26 as Red Ribbon Week. Many years have passed since a proclamation was last issued, Dietz said. The mayor and London City Schools Superintendent Steve Allen signed the document.

The breakfast was the kick-off to a packed week of activities. On Monday, students wore pajamas to “Put a sleeper hold on illegal drugs.” On Tuesday, they wore hats to “Put a lid on drugs.” On Wednesday, they dressed in 1980s apparel to “86 drugs.” Thursday’s theme was movie costumes; the motto was “Aye, drugs should walk the plank.” Red and White Day on Friday came with the mantras, “White out drugs” and “Drugs should dread the red.”

For a community service project, BOLD students organized a canned food drive (“You CAN beat illegal drug use”). Last year, students collected over 4,000 boxed and canned food items, which were divided among two local food pantries.

“We also tied red ribbons on anything that didn’t move,” Dietz said, referring in part to trees on the school property and along Elm Street.

Fifty students belong to BOLD this year at London.

Red Ribbon Week Proclamation

London City Schools and the City of London value the health and safety of all our citizens.

    Substance abuse is particularly damaging to one of our most valuable resources, our children, and a contributing factor in the three leading causes of death for teenagers—accidents, homicides and suicides.

    It is the goal of the London City Schools Red Ribbon Campaign to involve families, schools, businesses, churches, law enforcement agencies and service organizations in all aspects of this campaign and establish an atmosphere that supports awareness, education and ongoing initiatives to prevent illegal drug use.

    London City Schools Red Ribbon Campaign theme promotes family and individual responsibility for living healthy, drug-free lifestyles, without illegal drugs or the illegal use of legal drugs.

    There are many activities planned during the Red Ribbon Campaign in the school district.

    We hereby proclaim Oct. 22 to Oct. 26 as Red Ribbon Week and urge all citizens to join in the week’s activities and to work all year long to protect our community from the dangers of alcohol and other drugs.


    David Eades, Mayor of London
    Steve Allen, Superintendent of London City Schools

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