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Americans in Rheinland-Pfalz take stand against drugs, alcohol
By Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz
SEMBACH, Germany – Hundreds of people at U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz took a stand against drug and alcohol abuse Oct. 19 during the Red Ribbon Run at Sembach Kaserne.
The event, centered on a five kilometer fun run and walk, is the Kaiserslautern Military Community’s way to commemorate National Red Ribbon Week. Kai Jendretzke won the race, coming in at 17:11.
“We had more than 850 runners and walkers and we had in excess of 107 volunteers,” said Sandi Magill, who coordinated the event. “I’d say, ‘we rocked it.’”
This year, the event was paired with a Halloween theme – zombies. Many people got into character, sporting ghoulish face paint and torn clothes. The first zombie across the finish line was Pfc. James Conyers, 23, a military police Soldiers assigned to the 230th Military Police Company at Sembach Kaserne.
The event kicked off beside the Sembach Community Activity Center. First, runners and walkers registered and received a t-shirt that said “Never High, Always Fly.” Dozens of families brought their dogs with them. At least one cat also attended.
Following the opening ceremony, participants made their way to the start line. Wojtek Czyz, a German Paralympic athlete whose leg was amputated from a severe soccer injury, held a race torch high. At the starting gun, they were off with Czyz, Maj. Gen. John R. O’Connor, commander of the 21st Theater Sustainment Command and Col. Bryan DeCoster, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz, leading the group.
Zombies aside, the garrison hosts the annual event to spread awareness on prevention of drug and alcohol abuse. Red Ribbon Week, which starts Oct. 23, honors the memory of Enrique Camarena, an undercover Drug Enforcement Administration agent and former Marine who was tortured and killed in Mexico in 1985.
People sick of the destruction caused by alcohol and drugs began wearing red satin badges and forming coalitions to spread the word. Now, events are designed for people to take a stand against substance abuse. In the KMC, the Army garrison’s family-geared run and walk has become tradition.
Before and after the run, families took part in lots of fun activities, to include a haunted house, mask making, making your own Zombie T-shirt and pumpkin decorating. There was also a flash mob, where volunteers danced to Michael Jackson’s song, “Thriller.”
There was a USO stand offering food as well as food from the Sembach Community Activity Center. There was a haunted house, a pumpkin patch, fire trucks and jumping castles. More than 50 garrison staff and band members also supported the event.
Several community organizations were on hand for the event, to include the garrison’s Army Substance Abuse and Prevention program, Army Community Service and family advocacy. Cadets from the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps posted the colors during the opening ceremony and served as guides. In all, more than 22 community agencies took part, Magill said. In total, roughly 4,075 people took part, Magill said.
Command Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Kraus, U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz’s senior enlisted leader, closed the event by encouraging participants eat suppers as a family.
“Plan at least three dinners together weekly with your kids. Take time to engage them in conversation about school, work, spirituality, fitness and health,” Kraus said. “It’s been proven to make a difference.”
Tagged: , Red Ribbon Run , Sembach Kaserne , us , army , U.S. Army Garrison , Rheinland , Pfalz
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