By Kate Klimesh,
Their Mission Statement says it all: “Bikers Against Child Abuse, Inc. (B.A.C.A.) exists with the intent to create a safer environment for abused children. We exist as a body of Bikers to empower children to not feel afraid of the world in which they live. We stand ready to lend support to our wounded friends by involving them with an established, united organization. We work in conjunction with local and state officials who are already in place to protect children. We desire to send a clear message to all involved with the abused child that this child is part of our organization, and that we are prepared to lend our physical and emotional support to them by affiliation, and our physical presence. We stand at the ready to shield these children from further abuse. We do not condone the use of violence or physical force in any manner, however, if circumstances arise such that we are the only obstacle preventing a child from further abuse, we stand ready to be that obstacle.”
B.A.C.A. has chapters in 47 states and 18 countries and is celebrating its 25th year in 2021. The Driftless region is home to the Bluff Valley Chapter of Spring Valley, Minn.
The Driftless Journal met up with Bluff Valley B.A.C.A. members Grandma and Farmer. Members use road names to protect their anonymity, important when standing up to someone who would hurt a child. “I’m not sure if we chose this group or if it chose us,” they noted.
The Bluff Valley Chapter was started after Grandma and Farmer became involved with the B.A.C.A. chapter in Owatonna, Minn., after looking for something beyond weekend rides to favorite establishments through Minnesota’s winding back roads. “Ringo found it [B.A.C.A.] online and we checked into their mission, then went to a meeting, then we were hooked,” Grandma said.
“We’re not volunteers,” she added, “we’re committed – riding with a purpose. Unfortunately, there is a need for B.A.C.A.” Farmer said. “The pay we get is the smile on the kids face – these hurt little kids who have nothing, they get to be a part of our biker family and it just works, the kids get it. For us, seeing the mission is working – those kids are our future.” When kids can’t or don’t know how to stand up for themselves, they have their B.A.C.A. family next to them.
“To go into court with the kids, to be there for them or to go to the sentencing with them, and see them be so strong, look the perpetrator in the eye,” Grandma recalled as some of the highlights of their service.
Within the organization, a central contact receives referrals from recognized, authorized agencies and individuals, with verification that the case is being processed within the system. An initial ride is scheduled with thoroughly vetted and trained B.A.C.A. members to meet the child, give them a vest with the B.A.C.A. logo on the back and their new road name –for anonymity and protection of all involved in the situation.
The kids are then officially part of the B.A.C.A. organization and have two members specifically assigned to them – their primaries -– that they can call on 24/7, 365 days a year, if they ever feel scared or unsafe. Any hour, any day, anytime, the kids can call, and their B.A.C.A. family will respond to ensure they are safe.
They will be available to the child as long as the child needs them, up until age 18. After that they can become a member if they choose. The organization holds summer and winter parties as well for all the kids and members.
Membership into B.A.C.A. is a personal commitment, with the first year in the organization billed as supporter status, with a member sponsor to guide you through the process and the required training. Following the initial attendance at two B.A.C.A. meetings with any chapter, completing the fingerprinting and full background check, the potential member begins training…lots of training. “We have a handbook, training on how to talk to the kids, the court process, the training and education is pretty much constant,” Grandma added.
After a minimum of one full year of support status and approval by the sponsor, there is a patching ceremony that takes place, meaning that new member is now eligible to be a ‘Primary’ for a child that needs B.A.C.A., one of two members assigned to that child as supporters and family when they need it most. “These kids are our future,” Farmer said. “Even helping one kid is too many,” let alone all those the organization has able to be there for since its founding.
Anyone looking to check out B.A.C.A. can stop by the Spring Valley VFW at 10:30 a.m. the third Sunday of each month, or visit BACAWORLD.org. The website has a list of chapters, and other information of interest.
The Bluff Country Chapter helpline is 507-722-0499, or write them at P.O. Box 187 Spring Valley, MN 55975
This kind of dedication is why this group was selected as the recipients of the t-shirt sale proceeds from the Driftless Journal Biker Bingo T-Shirts, available for purchase online at driftlessjournal.buydecorah.com.