TARPON SPRINGS (FOX 13) - It’s not hard to mistake a biker. They usually are dressed in leather from head to toe.
With the fighting, brawling and law-breaking by some, a lot of bikers are believed to be bad.
"You can tell there is an intimidation factor because they look at bikers in a different way. They've been raised to believe that bikers are all bad. We get comments; we get dirty looks; we've watched people walk out when we walk in." Loony told FOX 13 News.
Loony is the Bay Bridges chapter president of B.A.C.A., Bikers Against Child Abuse. Their mission is to empower children to not live in fear.
"They should be able to grow up like every other normal child and enjoy life and do the things that kids do,” said Loony. “[They should] not have to worry about having to testify, not worry about going to court, worrying about ‘is this person going to hurt me again’. It's sad that we have to exist, but that’s why we exist."
Typically, FOX 13 News doesn't just refer to a person by one name, but a nickname is all we have to go on in this case. That’s because in the B.A.C.A. family, all they have are nicknames, so as to avoid being subpoenaed.
Typically in a case against an abuser, the defense attorney subpoenas everyone in the child’s life, and then when the child has to testify in court, they're are all alone.
But when they’re in the B.A.C.A. family, things are different. They cannot subpoena a name like "Loony" or "Heels" or any other nickname, and therefore they can be there with the child during court proceedings, rather than having to testify.
That is only a fraction of what B.A.C.A. does, empowering and allowing the child to trust adults again and to feel safe.
"We had one call at 3 a.m. saying she thought she smelled the perpetrators aftershave, even though he was in prison. It was a young girl and she thought she smelled the aftershave, so we went to her house at three in the morning and stood security around her house until she fell back asleep,” explained Loony. “If there is a threat on a child, we will stand 24/7 security as long as it takes until that threat is gone."
One of the children adopted into the B.A.C.A. family, along with her mother, says they not only talk the talk, but they walk the walk.
"She helps me and tells me she misses me," Sugar Bug said of her B.A.C.A. child liaison, before adding that it makes her feel happy.
"Seeing what they do- it is unmentionable. You don't ever hear people dedicating that much time for children. What they do - they're a Godsend. They're guardian angels- no doubt about it," Sugar Bug’s mother added.
Loony won’t go as far as saying that about himself, but he certainly does about his inspiration.
"My son passed away four years ago and he was 9. He rides with me everywhere I go and again- my motivation at the beginning was - because I couldn't help him, I'd help other children,” Loony explained. “He's still my motivation obviously, but just the B.A.C.A. mission- and going out and promising what we're going to do- that’s my motivation. Cody rides with my everywhere I go, I don't worry about things because my angel is with me."
Loony’s son serves as a reminder that in life, it's possible to go from tragedy to triumph.
"I'm out there helping children and I couldn't help Cody. I wish the outcome was different, but it did prompt me to do this, and I think this is one of the best things – wait-- I KNOW it's been the best thing I have ever done.”
For more information, B.A.C.A.'s website for this area: http://florida.bacaworld.org/florida/bay-bridges-chapter/