Biker group 'adopts' four children

Sunday, November 19, 2006
Members of Bikers Against Child Abuse rode their bikes Saturday. The group held an adoption ceremony at Cape County Park Saturday for abused and neglected children in the area. (Chris Pagano ~

Family is what it's all about.

Children at the Bikers Against Child Abuse adoption ceremony at Cape County Park on Saturday were given denim vests with their "ride" names (chosen themselves), a trinket, a do rag and a handmade angel, but most importantly, "our love," said Molly Auer, of Cape Girardeau, Bikers Against Child Abuse member and child liason for the group. Children are also given business card-sized magnets with a cell phone number to call whenever they need help or just want to talk.

Primaries are BACA members chosen to develop a relationship through phone calls and visits, support at court or whatever is necessary with the children. Altogether, the SEMO BACA chapter supports six children. It is the primaries who see their needs are met, be it food, transportation, eyeglasses or someone to talk to.

The national organization was formed in 1995 by a licensed child therapist to help abused or neglected children. The only referrals BACA accepts are where a police report has been filed and an interview with the appropriate agency, like the Southeast Missouri Network Against Sexual Violence and Court Appointed Special Advocates, has been conducted.

The local chapter, started in February, has grown from a dozen founding members to about 40. It serves areas within a 100-mile radius of Cape Girardeau.

President Dave Salzmann of Jackson said the group got started when he was having problems with his own children and the BACA Internet site was pointed out to him. Hooking up with others in similar situations got the group off the ground. "No child shall live in fear," he said.

"We take the family to the children so they know they have big brothers and sisters," said Auer, whose ride name is "Momma." She selects primaries, considering personality characteristics and assets that will benefit the child. "They must have patience, understanding, be very responsible and [have] lots of sensitivity," she said.

At Saturday's ceremony, Eric Welch, aka "Chuck of Jackson," Randy McLain, aka "Big Mac of Cape Girardeau," Kristy Halter, aka "Prissy of Cape Girardeau," and Cynthia Looman, aka "Cyn of Jackson," were recognized as primaries of the four newly adopted children.

A lot of BACA members have lived in fear or their children have lived in fear or they're just passionate about the issue and want to make a difference.

For instance, Looman, a new primary, spent time in an Arkansas prison where she saw children raped and abused and endured it herself.

"A lot of it I blocked out when I didn't have someone to talk to," she said. "We put all our personal feelings on back burner and try to stop of slow down what's going on in kids' lives."

Halter said she wished BACA was around when her children needed it. Family and friends saw them through the hellish spots. "Now we're strong enough to help others," she said.

335-6611, extension 133

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