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Hundreds prepare to walk against drugs in 29th Red Ribbon March

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - 

Hundreds in the community will hit the streets Friday morning to walk in the 29th annual Red Ribbon March.

It’s a walk with a goal to raise awareness about drugs and the damage they cause.

The event kicks off Red Ribbon Week, a national campaign started in the 1980’s after a federal drug enforcement agent was tortured and killed in Mexico.

Since then the campaign has served as a catalyst in communities across the country, helping to teach youth about the importance of a drug-free life.

“Usually we have at least 300 people. This year we’re hoping to have 400 or 500,” said Associate Director of the South Bend Heritage Foundation Gladys Muhammad.

The walk will start at the Colfax Cultural Center at 10:30 a.m. The first 300 people at the walk receive a free shirt and food.

Muhammad, who has been part of the march since it started, says the event is something kids now look forward to every year.

“It’s a good way to show our young people that drugs are not good,” she said.

This year’s theme here is “Education is the key to be drug free.”

“We have a great time,” said Muhammad. “Drugs are out there, and this is just a nice healthy way and a fun way to get a serious message out to our kids.”

Drug overdoses increased five-fold in Indiana from 1999 to 2015 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And as of 2015, St. Joseph County exceeded the state average for overdoses with over 20 deaths per 100,000 people.

This event strives to lower the number of those overdose deaths.

“Although it’s a fun day, it’s a serious message,” said Muhammad. “Drugs destroy people, and violence. It leads to violence and violence destroys our community. We want to keep our community a quality and strong community, and make sure that our young people especially stay off drugs.

Participants in the march will travel down Lincolnway and stop at the Salvation Army Kroc Center. There they will receive gift bags and will be able to stay for a program.

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