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So many of the stereotypes associated with bikers are of the negative kind. The Hells Angels MC are usually only in the news for something involving violence or worse, and the popular TV show Sons of Anarchy doesn't help the biker image either. Bikers tend to be avoided and are assumed to be violent individuals, and even worse when in a group. The general population only see leather clad, bandana-wearing, tattooed men and women that are loud, heavy drinkers, use colorful profanity and participate in all forms of debauchery. But would you believe there are a group of bikers that don't fit the common stereotypes? That a group of men and women - that just happen to wear leather and bandanas, have tattoos, and drive loud motorcycles - have come together to help end child abuse? Believe it.
A chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse (B.A.C.A.) exists right here in the Rolling Plains. Twenty-four chapters exist in Texas alone, with about 700 members. The first chapter of B.A.C.A. was established in 1995 in the state of Utah by JP "Chief" Lily. The Rolling Plains Chapter was established in 2006 and currently has fourteen patch members and six supporting members: Kris "Mijo" Warner (President), Dale "Windjammer" Burge (Vice President), Brenda "Twinkie" Arend (Secretary), Cindy "Nightingale" Huckabee (Treasurer), Luis "T-Bone" Torres (Sergeant at Arms), Norma "Mouse" Torres (Child Liason), Mike "Wolfie" Sanders (State Representative), David "Delete" Catellanos (Merchandiser), Wendell "Kilowatt" Wade, Javier "Chewy" Franco, Kurt "Squiggie" Huckabee, Grant "Maverick" Davidson, Marisa "Moose" Castellanos, Donna "M&M" Burge. Robert "Curly" Sadler, Amanda "Stitch" Sadler, Dora "Shadow" Moncibais, Armando "Doughboy" Moncibais, John "Oso" Duran and Nicole "Cheeks" Duran.
I was able to sit down with some members of the Rolling Plains Chapter this past Wednesday evening. Kris "Mijo" Warner told me,"One of the biggest problems we run into is that people misconstrue who we are and what we do. We do this for the kids. We could care less about the perp and their family. All we care about is getting that kid back to a normal life." Javier "Chewy" Franco said, "I wish people could really see what B.A.C.A. does, how much these kids get helped, how much we serve the community. Maybe then they would realize the good we do. It's a privilege to be assigned to a child's case."
So what is B.A.C.A.? It is a non-profit organization that exists with the intent to create a safer environment for abused children. It exists as a body of bikers to empower children to not feel afraid of the world in which they live. The bikers stand ready to lend support to wounded friends by involving them with an established, united organization. They work in conjunction with local and state officials who are already in place to protect children. B.A.C.A. desire to send a clear message to all involved with the abused child that this child is part of the organization, and that the bikers are prepared to lend their physical strength and emotional support to the children by affiliation, and their physical presence. The group stand at the ready to shield these children from further abuse. They do not condone the use of violence or physical force in any manner, however, if circumstances arise such that the bikers are the only obstacle preventing a child from further abuse, they stand ready to be that obstacle.
B.A.C.A.'s main objective is to empower children that have been through rough times. Members work exclusively with the child, gaining his or her trust and friendship. They are with the children every step of the way, from their physical presence in the courtroom as the child testifies against his/her perpetrator to acting as escort to and from court proceedings. They are a physical wall between that child and anyone that has ever hurt them. B.A.C.A work directly with CPS, Warren Hicks & Associates and the Advocacy Center when dealing with child abuse cases. The Bikers also work with local law enforcement agencies.
Participating members aren't just thrown together with these children without preparation. Members of B.A.C.A. are required to go to state meetings for training on how to talk to children, how to help children deal with the stress and how to cope with stress themselves. Members are also taught how to conduct themselves in court sessions. Each member is also required to go through a federal background check from the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) before they are allowed to have any interaction with a child.
Members of B.A.C.A. participate in many community activities as well. A Stranger Danger program was held at Eastridge Elementary school recently, and bikers help out at the Family FunFair in Nolan and Scurry Counties every April. (April is Child Abuse Awareness Month.) These men and women are every day citizens that just happen to be bikers. A lot of them live and work right here in Sweetwater. Their children attend school here.
Children that have been helped by the organization adopt B.A.C.A. members into their lives. They become family members to the children and participate in their lives by going to school functions and sports games. Members throw birthday and holiday parties for every child that comes through their doors. "Seeing these kids become kids again, that's why we do this," Javier said.
The Rolling Plains Chapter of B.A.C.A. is in need of donations. All donations go to support the children. Drop by the High Sky Children's Ranch (Children's Advocacy Center) at 317 Oak in Sweetwater to see how you can make a donation.
Visit www.bacausa.com to learn more about what the group does for children.