TAYLOR COUNTY—Bikers, grab your gear and head to Morgantown on Saturday, July 18, for a fundraising event that is sure to draw a crowd, as Bikers Against Child Abuse North Central West Virginia Chapter gets ready to let their engines roar.
Each year, Bikers Against Child Abuse, or B.A.C.A., chapters around the world saddle up on a designated day to ride to bring awareness about their organization, as well as child abuse, during their 100 Mile Ride. This year’s event will include children’s games, a fire eater, basket raffles, a DJ and so much more!
B.A.C.A., a non-profit organization, began in 1995, when John Paul “Chief” Lilly, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Registered Play Therapist/Supervisor, noticed gaps in the system when helping children suffering from abuse and neglect heal.
“One of the main issues he noticed was the child’s safety,” noted North Central WV B.A.C.A. Member Sidewalk. “Law enforcement and prosecutors can only do so much when trying to protect a child, and let’s face it, there just aren’t enough officers to keep up with the growing numbers. So, that’s where B.A.C.A. comes in.”
Chief noted that even with the court’s involvement to protect the children, perpetrators were continuing to contact the children causing more damage. He also saw that many children who have undergone abuse did not qualify for therapy funding, again, leaving a gap in their recovery process.
Playing off the stigma surrounding bikers of the being strong, and sometimes intimidating, as well as experiencing the brotherhood amongst bikers and recalling his kind experiences with them, Chief began to rally that specific community to aid children in need.
The first ride to visit wounded children and bring them into the biker family was held in 1995, with just 27 bikers present. Now, B.A.C.A. International, Inc. is present in 48 states and 17 countries, ensuring that abused children feel safe and accepted.
It is B.A.C.A.’s mission to create a safer environment for abused children. The body of bikers pledge to empower children to not feel afraid of the world in which they live.
“There are a lot of organization out there that will help to feed and provide clothing for abused children, but we focus on empowering them to overcome their negative experience,” voiced B.A.C.A. Member Belle. “We work closely with an area’s prosecutors, law enforcement, CASA organization, therapists or any other entity that is involved in the case, to ensure the children feel a sense of safety and empowerment.”
Once it has been determined that a child is fearful of his or her environment, B.A.C.A. is contacted and two members geographically closest to the youth are assigned to the case.
“We always work in twos,” Belle revealed. “It protects both the children and the bikers.”
A chapter ride is held, where all the bikers make their way to the child, who is then initiated into the group and is given a road name, a vest and backpatch to symbolize that they are part of the B.A.C.A. family, and that is where the empowerment begins.
“Once they are given their road name, we never use their legal name, as a way to protect them. The bikers are only called by their road names as well,” shared Belle.
The child is then given the names and phone numbers of the two members assigned to him or her. They are told that anytime they feel scared or threatened, they can contact the bikers, who will go meet with the child and stand guard for as long as they are needed.
B.A.C.A. members will also escort the children to court proceedings, therapy appointments, or act whenever they are called upon by the child.
To become a member of the B.A.C.A. family, a biker must undergo and pass a federal background check. They are then subject to 12 months of trainings before they are introduced to children.
“We are not biker gangs, we are a family of bikers who have a goal of protected children who have undergone abuse,” voiced Sidewalk. “We do not condone violence, but we will not allow anyone to intimidate or harm the children that we have welcomed into our family.”
Anyone wishing to take part in the 100 Mile Ride is welcome to join. For those who don’t own a motorcycle but would like to get in on the fun and excitement, B.A.C.A. member Raven revealed that they have what they call cagers, those who take part in the event in a vehicle.
Participants will be asked to pay a registration fee of $20 per rider and $15 per passenger. Registration begins at 10:00 a.m., followed by a blessing of the bikes at noon. There will activities for all ages during the event.
The ride will begin at Triple S Harley Davidson, in Morgantown, and kickstands will go up at 12:30 p.m. Bikers will end their route at Mary’s Place, where they will enjoy a delicious meal, covered in the cost of registration.
“This is our once-a-year fundraiser. We do not solicit for money throughout the year. All expenses the biker incurs, they cover 100 percent, whether it’s gas or maintenance for their bike, lodging or whatever. All the money that we raise goes directly to the children,” Belle disclosed.
For more information about this unique group, please visit their webpage at www.bacaworld.org.