By Jack Molitor
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — Some events take two or three years of trial and error to get right. But Wendy Cook said her first Red Ribbon Rally went quite well.
More than 40 high school students showed up on Saturday afternoon for the rally at the Impact Center to participate in games, relays and other activities meant to discourage drug abuse and promote good decision-making. The event finished with a short run near the Impact Center.
Red Ribbon Week is a national campaign organized by the National Family Partnership in 1985 in response to the murder of DEA Agent Enrique Camarena. Intersect Inc., the Impact Center and several other organizations in Anderson partnered to host the city's inaugural rally Saturday.
Cook, who works at Intersect and was the lead organizer for the rally, said such functions are critical to communities, like Madison County, where drug abuse is rampant.
"One of our problems here, especially, is the perception of our youth by adults. A lot of times when kids have problems, they don't have the kind of support system they need or want," Cook said. "Our group tries to give them that. We have programs throughout the year to try to help kids and their parents."
The event also received support from the Anderson Police Department. Organizers encouraged parents to bring old prescription drugs to the rally, where the drugs could be collected and disposed of properly by officers.
Vera Mangrum, another volunteer from Intersect, encourages anyone who wants to dispose of prescription drugs to bring them to authorities, and not to flush them down the toilet.
"You never know what can be getting into the water, even if it's treated. I try to coordinate activities to raise awareness about that," Mangrum said.
The rally provided students with something to do on a Saturday afternoon. Hamilton Smith, a junior at Anderson High School, said the event was a good outlet for energy and was educational.
"It's an active day. You get the health benefits, and we learn some positive things. There's a lot of good that comes out of it," Smith said.
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