Originally published Wednesday, October 9, 2019 at 09:56a.m.

It is believed to be the longest-running annual event of its kind in Arizona.

It’s once again time to take the 13th Annual Walk Away from Drugs, which will be combined with the Keep Kingman Safe Expo. The event will take place 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 16, from three different Kingman locations.

It started with a challenge. If Kingman Police Chief David DeVries remembers correctly, it was the Bullhead City mayor who threw down the gauntlet. Which of three cities – Bullhead City, Lake Havasu City or Kingman – can throw a walk-away-from-drugs walk and mobilize bigger crowds.

The success of Kingman was obvious from the first walk in 2005, maybe because free hot dogs were part of the deal.

“We expected a few hundred,” said DeVries, who did not miss even one of the 13 walks. “The vendors ended up running to the grocery store to get more buns and hot dogs. Since then, state official tell us, we are the biggest event of that type in Arizona.”

His favorite memory? At one of the events he was confronted by a woman. To his surprise, she told him she attended the first Walk Away From Drugs Walk in 2005. She came because they were giving away free food. She was an addict and was hungry.

But she found more than food, DeVries laughs. She got information and help. “Yeah, you always wonder what kind of impact these events actually have,” he told The Daily Miner. “But this woman got clean. So yes, I believe in if even if it’s helping one person at a time.”

The event is hosted by the Kingman Area Meth Coalition, a nonprofit organization, uniting the community in times of the opioid crises. Formed in 2005, it has a basic website http://www.kwafd.com featuring photos from past marches and links to videos such as Oxycontin – another type of death.

“Things have changed since we first sat down in 2005, responding to the meth crises that started in the 90s,” DeVries said. “Our department met with key stakeholders in the area. We looked at services we provide and talked about our gaps. Still, the problem remains the same. Not enough beds in the facilities that help people get clean.”

Next Wednesday, participants will line up at Smith’s Food and Drug, 3490 N. Stockton Road, Firefighter’s Memorial Park, 2201 Detroit Ave (both locations require a 0.9 mile walk) and at Mother Road Harley Davidson, 2501 Beverly Ave. (for a 0.3 miles walk).

“Dump your prescription drugs,” the organizers encourage. “Come help us take a stand against substance abuse and walk away from drugs together.”

The actually walk starts at 5:45 p.m., and everybody will come together at Centennial Park, 333 Harrison Street (near the north softball fields) for free food, informational vendors and fun for the whole family. Hot dogs and refreshments will be provided by the Powerhouse Kiwanis and Moose Lodge 1704.

Last year, the event brought together close to 2,000 anti-drug supporters, who took the 12th Annual Walk Away From Drugs.

This is a free event and the whole community is invited. No sign up required, just show up. For more information, call Tiffany Reed or Chief David DeVries at the Kingman Police Department at (928) 753-2191.