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Get Set For The Red Ribbon Run & Challenge on Oct. 16

Get Set For The Red Ribbon Run & Challenge on Oct. 16

by James Coulter

InnerAct Alliance is excited to return the Annual Red Ribbon Run to our community after the pandemic forced cancellation of the popular in-person Run event last year. The event is offered to create awareness, prevent harm, and promote health. 

The 2021 Red Ribbon Run & Challenge, presented by title sponsor Publix Super Markets, will take place on Saturday morning, October 16 with the Red Ribbon Kids Fun Run for students in Kindergarten through 8th grade, along with an inaugural Family Fun Run where parents may run or walk with their child in the 1K race route along Lake Mirror in Lakeland.

Participants in the Red Ribbon Run events may also enjoy visiting the new Florida Dairy Farmers Market that takes place during the Run activities on October 16 and features delicious fruit, veggies, activities and giveaways to celebrate healthy food and fitness.

For those who can’t make it out to Lake Mirror, weekly challenges with themes of nutrition, anti-bulling, and fitness are offered in a virtual format on the event website at RedRibbonRun.com during October for kids to complete challenges with their families and friends and post them on the Red Ribbon Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/RedRibbonRunSeries with the tag #RedRibbonChallenges to earn points for special prizes. Prizes will be distributed to participants who complete 10 or more challenges after winter break.

InnerAct Alliance is a local non-profit organization whose mission is, according to its website, “to reduce the abuse and underage use of harmful substances along with involvement in other risky behaviors through: ​Community Awareness and Involvement; Prevention Education; Economic Support; and Leadership Development.”

Formerly The Drug Prevention Resource Center, InnerAct Alliance has undergone immense growth and outreach since its humble beginnings in 1985. As its executive director, Angie Ellison, explains: “We have grown from a very small agency that served a handful of classrooms to a mid-sized agency that now serves about 70 classrooms a year with drug prevention and bullying prevention information. So I am really proud of the growth we have made and the impact we are able to have on the community.”

Their annual Red Ribbon Campaign is a nationwide campaign that serves to provide understanding and awareness around the importance of substance abuse and bullying prevention. The event has been going strong for the past 30 years. Last year’s event introduced a virtual challenge to continue their efforts even in spite of these uncertain times. The challenge allows students to participate by completing challenges at their school with their PE teacher or at home.

Typically, the annual race draws in 1,400 runners, and this year, they are hoping to bring in many more. With the event having been hosted for three decades and counting, it has become an annual tradition that families and their children have continued to participate in through the years.

“I will run into an adult who ran in the run when they were a kid, and now they are bringing their child to the run,” Ellison said. “Of course, we love the energy that comes with all of those kids, but we also want them to walk away with the message that the healthier they can be, the better choices they make…the better off they are and the most successful they can be in life.”

Everyone is encouraged to pre-register on the event website at RedRibbonRun.com. Registration for the Kids Fun Run is free for students in grades K-8 before 10/16/21; Adults pay a $5 fee to register for the Family Fun Run.

On October 16, participants should plan to check in at 7 AM at the Lake Mirror Auditorium. Registered students in grades K-8 will receive a free Run t-shirt and wristband that helps match children and parents back together after the Run heats take place. For more information, visit the event website at RedRibbonRun.com or call InnerAct Alliance at (863) 802-0777.

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