FENTON (WJRT) - (10/24/18) - Wednesday morning students of the Young Marines Lapeer County chapter took a break from school to spread a message about the use of illegal drugs using red ribbons.
"I think what I take away from it is more how I can help others with what I do alone," said Hunter Graves.
Hunter Graves is a freshman at Fenton High School. The 14-year-old is on a mission to encourage everyone to live drug-free.
He wants you to take notice of red ribbons that are tied to light poles in downtown Fenton.
"We're just trying to help people live a healthier life without the use of drugs," Graves said.
Hunter and two other members of the Lapeer County Young Marines talked to business owners downtown to ask for permission to hang posters during Red Ribbon Week, which is the last week of October.
It's a national campaign fueled by the murder of DEA Agent Enrique "Kiki" Camarena who was tortured and murdered by drug dealers.
"Kiki Camarena actually was a Marine and then he became an undercover agent with the DEA, and the Young Marines organization does work closely with the DEA," said Lapeer Unit Commander Carol Arman.
Arman says the Red Ribbon Campaign goes hand in hand with the Young Marines' mission.
"We are very focused on having a healthy, drug-free lifestyle for all of our kids and helping them become strong leaders. We're always developing their leadership skills, teamwork, discipline and helping them spread that word throughout the community," Arman said.
Graves has embodied those characteristics, connecting with the Fenton City Council back in July and with the police department to get permission to place decals on cruisers.
"As part of our unit we've done quite a few things in Lapeer County. Young Marine Private Graves lives in Genesee County, and wanted to bring the same thing to his own community, and he's done a fantastic job. He's just taken it and run with it," Arman said.
And after a couple of years in the program, Graves is seeing a change in himself. He's showing initiative and learning how to deal with bullying.
"Well for the past two years during in school I've been getting bullied and food thrown at me. But through the Young Marines I've learned just to deal with it and ignore everyone who's done this stuff to me, so I've really changed," Graves said.
This is just the beginning for Hunter who has plans to continue the message in his chosen career field.
"Being a video game developer so I can help make games to teach about this subject with others," Graves said.
To learn more about Young Marines or to find a chapter near you visit their website.