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Ray Lozano — Tying a Red Ribbon around prevention

Elks Drug Awareness Program speaker Ray Lozano speaks to students at North County Intermediate School in Desloge. The program was brought to the schools by the Mineral Area Community Elks Lodge in Desloge. Dan Schunks

Elks Drug Awareness Program speaker Ray Lozana brought his anti-drug/anti-alcohol message to North County High School and Intermediate School on Oct. 20. The kids sat and listened attentively to Lozano as he spoke to them in an entertaining and informative way.

The program was brought to the school district by the Mineral Area Community Elks Lodge in Desloge.

The time of year is here when communities come together to wrap bright red bows around the dark trunks of tall trees in recognition of Red Ribbon Week, one of the oldest and largest drug-prevention celebrations in the nation.

The Elks is dedicated to educating the youth about the dangers of drug use not just during Red Ribbon Week but year-round with its Drug Awareness Program. As part of that effort, the program sends speaker Ray Lozano — the CEO of Prevention Plus and a member of Redlands, Calif., Lodge No. 583 — on the road throughout the year to talk with audiences of students, teachers and faculty, and Elks from local lodges. From October 16 to 20, Lozano visited schools across Iowa.

Throughout the week, he presented to approximately 6,800 students ranging from kindergarteners to seniors in high school.

“Sometimes it was squirrely middle-schoolers, other times younger kids,” Lozano says. “My challenge is to tailor the message to the audience to make sure it resonates.”

Before a presentation at an elementary school, a nervous principal spoke with Lozano about how she feared his talk would go over the students’ heads. Undaunted, Lozano engaged the students with his trademark humor while shining a steady spotlight on the effects of drug abuse.

After the presentation, the principal shook Lozano’s hand and thanked him for delivering a presentation that was not only full of energy but also age-appropriate.

“Mission accomplished,” Lozano says with a smile. “I love my job, and I love knowing I’ve connected with a student.”

During a presentation at a high school with a notorious reputation for being tough on presenters, Lozano was cycling through the five yes or no questions that he likes to ask to help audience members determine whether they might have an addiction when he noticed a boy get up and walk out of the lecture. Several teachers followed the student and returned him to his seat a few minutes later.

What Lozano didn’t know until after the presentation was that the student was struggling with drugs and alcohol, even attending classes under the influence in the past.

“When I asked those five questions, the kid felt like I was talking directly to him,” Lozano says. “He answered yes to all of them.”

Afterward, the boy thanked Lozano and said the school needed more speakers like him.

“That’s why I do this,” Lozano says of the miles and miles he logs every year traveling to schools across the country. “To help students like him.”

You can help, too. As alcohol, tobacco, and other drug prevention take center stage this week, take some time to talk with your family and friends about drugs. You can find more information and resources at

Through the Elks National Drug Awareness Program, youth learn the importance of making healthy choices. In 2017-18, the Elks National Foundation allocated $729,340 to completely fund the Drug Awareness Program, which includes custom comic books, videos, and Ray Lozano’s speaking tour for students. For more information, visit

Dan Schunks is a staff writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at


  1. Louie Seiberlich on October 31, 2023 at 9:26 am

    Mr. Lozano presented his program at the North County High School and the Intermediate School earlier this month. It was sponsored by the Mineral Area Community Elks Lodge in Desloge. The MAC Elks also sponsors an Anti-Drug art and essay contest for students in the West County, Central and North County school districts, with national winners coming from these schools.

    • Kevin Jenkins on October 31, 2023 at 11:09 am

      Thanks, Louie! We were not given that information. It will be added to the story immediately, with our apologies. As you are already well aware, we are never shy about covering MAC Elks activities and giving the lodge the credit it so rightly deserves for its many acts of community service. – Editor Kev

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