Run to prevent drug and alcohol abuse

Red Ribbon 5K Run and Walk in downtown Hollister

Youths prep before the run

It may have been a brisk Saturday morning, but that didn’t stop people from coming out and warming up outside of the Veteran’s Memorial Building in downtown Hollister for the 28th Annual Red Ribbon 5K Run/Walk.

“This is the kick-off for Red Ribbon Week,” said Steve Reid, substance abuse manager at San Benito County’s Behavioral Health Department.

“This is all about the youth in this community, the prevention programs, and being able to support that and make awareness for this cause,” he said.

The Red Ribbon 5K is an annual event presented by the behavioral health department and the Hollister Police Department that helps raise awareness of the dangers of drugs and alcohol while benefiting the prevention efforts in local schools.

Over 100 people participated—runners and volunteers who helped put on the event. Many youths took part in the race as well as entire families.

“I think it’s just really important that we focus on the kids and on figuring out how we’re going to make this community the best it can be to keep the kids safe,” Reid added.

Julissa Orozco, vocational assistant and Christopher Urzua, substance abuse counselor, both from the behavioral health department, helped organize the event.

Along with department staff and volunteers, Orozco said sponsors such as Church Brothers Farms and True Leaf Farms made the event possible.

“Our team put hard work into this and a lot of our family members have come to volunteer,” Orozco said.

On race day, registration and warm-up began at 8am, an hour before race time. As participants waited for the race to begin—with some with babies and dogs in tow—they stretched, listened to the DJ’s dance tunes and chatted with friends.

Cold Storage Crossfit coaches, Christi Turner and Shayna Crawford, led the crowd in Thunder Burpees as ACDC’s “Thunderstruck” blasted through the sound system. This reporter sang the national anthem.

The race started in front of the Veteran’s Memorial Building, on the corner of 7th Street and Swope Alley. The route then went northbound on San Benito Street and formed the letter H to end up back in front of the Veteran’s Building on San Benito Street.

As runners and walkers finished the race, medals were handed out by event sponsors, Heroes 4 Hope. Fellow sponsors, Andy’s All About Fruits and Damm’s Water Service, had smoothies and water available for participants.

Medals were given out to the first- through third-place winners of children under 9 years old, and for men and women in multiple age divisions.

The fastest team, formed by students from Rancho San Justo Middle School in Hollister, were given an award and the overall male and female winners, 17-year-old Arturo Chaves and 12-year-old Viviana Rivas, were given trophies.

A raffle drawing took place with prizes donated by such businesses as Premiere Cinemas, SuperCuts, San Juan Oaks, Pizza Factory and Dona Esther.

Reid said it’s events like the Red Ribbon 5K that will help minimize the number of people with substance abuse problems.

“Statistic-wise, it shows that the younger we get to the kids, the better our chances are,” he said.

“There’s no family—there’s no community—untouched.”

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