|DATE 4/20/2003 7:22 PM|
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
This is part of an occasional series by the Sanpete Country Travel and Heritage Council on the people and places along U.S. Highway 89.
Bikers Raise Money to Prevent Child Abuse, Protect Future
|What do hundreds of motorcycle riders, poker, child abuse prevention and U.S. Highway 89 have in common? To find out the answer, keep an eye out on the highway and cities and towns along the historic route April 25-27. You might just see large groups of motorcycle riders winding their way down the highway to raise money for Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA).
The Utah chapters of BACA are holding a fund-raising “poker run” in the region to raise money for their cause. They will be stopping in cities along the historic route collecting playing cards and putting together the best poker hand they can.
“Weather permitting, they may be as many as 600 of us,” says Todd Bailey, a member of the BACA Central Utah Chapter. The association, which has nine Utah chapters, was organized about eight years ago with the goal of creating a safer environment for abused children. BACA works with local and state officials to lend emotional and physical support to abused children, including supporting them at court and parole hearings and attending interviews. The organization now has 24 chapters in 22 states and in Canada.
“We go to court with the children to let them know that they are not alone,” says Bailey, whose group was recently in court to support Elizabeth Smart. “The empowerment a child can get from seeing a big, ugly biker in the courtroom who is there just to support them can be enough to put these perpetrators away.”
Other BACA chapters are holding similar fund-raising events across the nation the same weekend as part of National Child Abuse Prevention month. “We are hoping to increase awareness of what we are trying to do,” Bailey says. “Kids are our future and if we are not out there to help them, what kind of future do we have?”
The weekend event is being coordinated with assistance from Loretta Johnson, owner of the Wind Walker Guest Ranch where many BACA members are staying, and Curt Hawkins, who has helped organize tours of U.S. Highway 89, the Heritage Highway. Hawkins became acquainted with BACA while covering a court trial in Utah County. “I’m not a biker, not even close, but I heard about what they do and I was drawn to it,” he says.
The Wind Walker Guest Ranch will be the starting base for the poker run, which will be held Saturday. Bikers will ride to numerous cities in the Sanpete County area, including Mt. Pleasant, Fountain Green, Gunnison and Ephraim, as well as Levan, collecting playing cards. Pledges in support of their efforts are being collected prior to the event.
Following the “run,” there will be a dance and other activities at the Wind Walker Guest Ranch, which will be open to the public. There will also be a pre-poker run ride on Friday throughout the region, and Sunday there will be games and other activities at the ranch. Some BACA members and other participants may also camp at the rodeo grounds in Mt. Pleasant throughout the weekend, and do some leisurely riding as well. “There are some pleasurable rides down there,” Bailey says. U.S. Highway 89 was named the No. 1 riding trail in the nation a couple of years ago by the American Motorcycle Association.
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