Five Facts about Red Ribbon Week

Last Updated: Monday, October 4, 2021

Are you new to celebrating Red Ribbon Week? Those who aren’t familiar with the October occasion might even confuse it with World AIDS Day or Heart Disease Awareness because of the red waving red ribbons

So for the newbies, or those who are just curious, here are a few quick facts about Red Ribbon Week to get you started!

What is Red Ribbon Week?

Red Ribbon Week is the nation’s oldest and largest drug prevention awareness campaign. Today, millions of people celebrate.

How did Red Ribbon Week start?

Red Ribbon Week started after the death of Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, who in 1985 was brutally murdered by drug traffickers he was investigating in Mexico. After his death, people wanted to honor his sacrifice. Local celebrations began in California – where Camarena grew up – in 1985, and in 1988 the National Family Partnership started the first National Red Ribbon Week.

Why the red ribbons?

As a tribute to Camarena during the initial local celebrations, high school friend Henry Lozano and Congressman Duncan Hunter, created “Camarena Clubs” and the wearing of a red ribbon to show their oppositions to drugs.

When is Red Ribbon Week celebrated?

Red Ribbon Week is celebrated October 23-31 of every year.

What are some ways I (or my child’s school) can celebrate Red Ribbon Week?

Aside from participating in the contests (like the Campus Video PSA Contest, Red Ribbon Photo Contest, and Patch Program), organizing anti-drug events, wearing a red ribbon during the week of October 23-31, (see: Ways to Celebrate Red Ribbon Week), parents, teachers and caregivers should also take the opportunity to talk to children about the dangers of drug use. Here are some tips.


red ribbon promotional badgeRed Ribbon Week


Get more information about the history of Red Ribbon Week, as well as all of the related resources.

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