[Radio One Communications photo/Laura Waluszko]
A big bag of red balloons was opened up and the balloons let go, with the help of 4th graders from Myers Elementary in Portage, on the steps of the Porter County Administration Building in downtown Valparaiso this morning to kickoff Red Ribbon Week.
Jackie Sterling, Porter County Red Ribbon Chairperson for a Drug Free Porter County was among those who urged the kids to stay drug-free, and she told us afterwards, "we want them to make the right choices, we want them to be the best that they can be, because life is too precious".
Porter County Sheriff David Lain was there to talk to the kids. Lain said, "I think it's so important that our young people see a police officer just as a concerned adult, a regular person that's around the community like they see everyday," adding "I want there to be that connection instead of that separation".
Also addressing the children was Dr. Mann Spitler of Valparaiso, who shared the story of his daughter who died at the age of 20 in 2002 after a heroin overdose.
The balloons released have a message attached. Sterling says last year a balloon from the Porter County Red Ribbon Campaign traveled nearly three-hundred miles to a family about fifty-miles east of Cincinnati … a family whose name is, Porter.