LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - More than a hundred East Texans made their way to Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin early Saturday morning to participate in the Stay on Track Fun Run to run off and walk against drugs. The one mile and 5K run is organized to kick off Red Ribbon Week.
It's not easy getting up early on a Saturday, but when there's a shiny medal around your neck things change.
"I just wanted to come out here and run and win," admitted young runner Amzee Gerard.
A passion for running is something the silver medalist shares with her best friend.
"I love running," smiled runner Hannah Mackey.
However, the 8-year-olds were not the only ones that set out to run off drugs.
"If you find something you like to do, and I like to run, then you can probably do that instead of doing drugs," said runner Ashley Rhodes who came in first in her age group.
"Whenever they come out here and see that the community supports these type of activities and support healthy lifestyle choices then I think it really makes a difference," said participant Sheila Adams.
The early morning didn't scare one group of teachers off.
"School starts at eight o'clock so this is no problem for us to be up here at eight o'clock and start exercising," said Adams.
They walked the mile while some Panther cross country triplets chose to run a 5K with their best friend.
"It felt great because I tied with my brother and my best friend," said runner Jake Martinez.
The participants knew running for a cause was worth it.
"It can help because it shows how many people can be drug free," said runner Timmy Martinez. "It can encourage some people to try to do the same."
"To not do drugs," said young runner Makaela Eastwood.
"There's a lot of kids that do drugs, so I want to prove that I won't do drugs," said Runner Kaylin Martinez.
"Say somebody's doing drugs and they came to run this, if they're running this, they're not doing drugs," explained runner Davis Robinson.
Saturday, it took all kinds, teachers, best friends, and even triplets to ward off drugs.
Red Ribbon Week starts Monday and continues through Friday. It is the nation's oldest and largest drug prevention program.