MOTORCYCLE MISSION OF LOVE
UAW Local 1284 teams up with B.A.C.A. at 2nd Annual Charity Ride
Aug 11, 2017
Story by Meghan McBrady
Page Design by Jonathan Powell
Photos by Jenya Banks
Pop culture has long stereotyped bikers as being long-haired, Harley-riding, tattooed individuals looking to cause trouble.
But UAW Local 1284 at the FCA US Chelsea (Mich.) Proving Grounds knows better.
For the second straight year, the local teamed up with a group of bikers to raise money to combat child abuse. Together they raised more than $5,400 at the local’s Charity Motorcycle Ride on June 28, surpassing the $2,800 generated at last summer’s inaugural event.
The funds were donated to the Wayne County Chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse (B.A.C.A.).
“The community gets together and there are a lot of kids, abused kids and such, and they actually go in and help kids get through a lot of rough times, and it is what the money is for,” said Local 1284 Vice President Bill Heeney.
Founded in 1995, B.A.C.A. is an international non-profit created to establish a safe environment for abused children and empower them to not feel afraid of the world they live in.
Fortifying the motto “No child deserves to live in fear,” B.A.C.A. members are usually asked to intervene by local law enforcement officials, or even by a parent. Members will do everything from attending a child’s court hearings to actively staying outside their house all night if they are afraid.
Local 1284 Chief Steward Creag Guernsey said the Charity Ride started after Local 1284 President Greg Stoey wanted to get Proving Grounds employees who rode motorcycles together and do a ride.
“Just a small group of guys wanting to get together after work one day, throw some money in a hat, see what we can do as a donation,” Guernsey said.
Growing from the “small group of guys,” the ride was expanded to the entire facility to support the Wayne County Chapter of B.A.C.A.
Going from the Local 1284 Hall in Chelsea to the Forbidden Wheels Motorcycle Club House in Hell, Mich., the 45-minute motorcycle ride ended with a pizza dinner.
This year’s ride included 60 motorcycles, raising $20 per bike through a registration fee. Cars were also welcome to ride along.
Various raffle prizes, including a free, one-night stay in a Comfort Inn room with a king-bed and Jacuzzi and an AutoZone detail kit, were auctioned off to raise money for B.A.C.A. Jeep shirts, oil change certificates and food also were sold.
Support from UAW Region 1A Director Rory Gamble was instrumental in making the event a success.
B.A.C.A. members also showed up to support the ride – some bringing their families – and sold t-shirts and wrist bands alongside the raffle prizes.
Of the money raised, “one-hundred percent” went to B.A.C.A., Guernsey said.
Klimoman, Public Relations Officer for B.A.C.A.’s Wayne County Chapter, said the organization appreciates all the hard work Local 1284 and Chelsea Proving Grounds employees have done to support its cause.
He said the money goes a long way. “On average, it is about a $100 per child to welcome them into our family,” he said. “That includes buying them a letter vest that we wear, they pick their own rode name, get their rode name patched up, their patch on their back right under the ‘I will not live in fear.’
“They get a teddy bear that we fill with hugs – we tell them it is filled with an endless amount of hugs from the chapter, and that if they are ever scared, to hold the teddy bear.”
Klimoman – all B.A.C.A. members use codenames to protect their identities and child abuse victims – said the Wayne County Chapter, one of five in Michigan, has helped at least 50 children so far.
He said funds raised by the Local 1284 Charity Ride the last two years would allow the organization to empower and help at least 77 children.
“It’s actually a great feeling,” said Guernsey. “The anticipation of going into it – hoping what you did drives a good turnout – the day of and seeing all the bikes turn up, it gets really exciting to see everyone assemble.”
In the end, Klimoman said, being able to help children who used to struggle, and once lived in fear, get back “to being a child and having fun,” is all that matters.
“It’s incredible to see that transformation.”
From the beginning, Local 1284 President Stoey felt the Charity Ride stood out among the many charitable causes supported by Proving Grounds employees over the years.
“This one stuck out – it’s so dear to my heart,” said Stoey, who is on leave from the local on special assignment in the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center Health and Safety
“It seems like our facility took ownership of it,” he said. “I think it was the fact that[B.A.C.A.] was willing to be hands on. Meaning it wasn’t just calling the police and putting [child abusers] in the court system. These guys are known for going the extra mile and stepping in between an innocent child and someone trying to hurt them.”
Stoey is most gratified that others in the local stepped up to lead this year’s successfulCharity Ride.
“That was pretty cool,” he said. “It was the first time I ever felt that a legacy lived on, and I didn’t need to initiate anything because they were proud to step up.”
For more information about B.A.C.A., visit http://michigan.bacaworld.org/. The Michigan state helpline is 1-866-7BACAMI, while the email is firstname.lastname@example.org.