Burley guys with beards, black leather, tattoos and motorcycles can be an intimidating sight — outlaws for sure.
However, a group of bikers met in Richfield Saturday as part of an effort that counters the outlaw image — helping victims of child abuse.
Bikers Against Child Abuse was founded in 1995, and has since worked to further the mission of supporting children who have been abused.
“Anyone can ride with them,” said Travis Childers, who opened up his hangar at the Richfield Regional Airport to BACA for an evening of food, prize drawings and live entertainment. The goal was to help children who have been victimized.
There are between 15 and 18 children in Sevier County who have been enrolled in the BACA program.
BACA riders may look scary, but the children know it’s for their benefit. BACA members show up at court hearings to provide support to children who may have to testify in open court, and to act as a shield against acts of further abuse.
“We’re here to empower children,” said T, representing BACA’s southeast Utah chapter, based in Price. T, like many members of BACA, declined to give his full name. He said the group meets regularly, and rides like Saturday’s, which took the group of more than 30 bikes up to Fish Lake and back, are hosted to help raise money.
The money is used to help offset therapy costs for children who need it.
“We want to give them the ability to face their abuser and not be afraid,” T said.
While any type of bike is welcome — as long as it’s highway worthy — to be a member of BACA is a long process.
BACA members are vetted through an FBI background check. Once the background check has been passed, prospective BACA members have to spend 12 months being mentored in the program.
“We want to see how they act around children,” T said. He said the organization is dead set against any type of offender or even potential offender being associated with the children who are taken under the BACA wing.
After the 12 months are up, prospective BACA members are brought before the executive board to face a grilling, which can either end with a patch being awarded symbolizing full membership into the club, or six more months riding as a prospective member.
While they look like a biker gang, BACA members come from all different walks of life. Saturday’s event in Richfield saw truck drivers, construction workers, bankers and even a third grade teacher saddling up. All of them are united by a love of motorcycles, and a commitment to helping victims of child abuse.
Clinton Beverleigh, the newest patch bearer in the southeastern chapter, said the effort to join BACA was well worth it.
“Putting a smile back on the faces of children is better than any feeling you can get in your life,” Beverleigh said.