5 Surprising Facts About Red Ribbon Week


If you are a teacher, then you may be required to get your students excited about Red Ribbon Week. You may also be a parent who wants to know more about this activity. On the other hand, you may be a curious student who wants to know more. Regardless of which group you fall into, here are five surprising facts about Red Ribbon Week.

Started to Honor DEA Agent

Red Ribbon Week was started to honor Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena. This agent who was born in California in 1956 also served in the United States Marines. After leaving the Marines, he went to college and started his law enforcement career in 1970 with the Calexico Police Department before joining the Imperial County Sheriff’s Office. He became a DEA agent in 1974. He was sent to Mexico to investigate a drug case where he was kidnapped on February 7, 1985. A few short months later, residents of Calexico, California, organized the very first Red Ribbon Week in his honor.

1988 Marked the First National Campaign 

The first national Red Ribbon Week was held in 1988. Despite the fact that events were already organized in California, the first groups to call for it to become a national movement were Virginia Federation of Parents and the Illinois Drug Education Alliance. The National Family Partnership organized the first national event, and they continue to organize it today. President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan were named the honorary chairpeople. Congress made the eight-day week official that same year.

Contest Held Annually to Choose Theme 

While many communities set their own theme annually, a national contest is held to select a national theme. Students must submit a drawing containing a double-looped red ribbon when submitting their ideas to Red Ribbon Campaign headquarters. The winner gets $500.

Red Ribbon Week is Always the Same Dates

Red Ribbon Week is always October 23 to October 31. Many schools choose to do special events during the week. Many schools hold special contests during the week to see who can wear the craziest socks, the tallest hats or the best costume portraying the theme. Others choose to host community-wide events.

Red Ribbon Week Photo Contests 

Groups can participate in a Red Ribbon Photo Contest every year. Two winners are chosen from 10 regions throughout the United States by votes from people going to a particular website. A home winner and a school winner is chosen in each region. The 20 winning homes and schools each get $1,000 while the person making the entry gets a new iPad.

Red Ribbon Week is the largest organization in the world dedicated to drug prevention. Get involved today by telling others what you have learned about Red Ribbon Week. Above all else, make sure that you are enjoying a drug-free lifestyle.