Simone (KEPW Storytime): So, Storytime listeners: Today we have an interview with Bikers against Bullies, so I’m just going to, like I always do in true Simone fashion, I’m going to hand the microphone over and basically, Veronica and Ryan, if you guys could tell us about Bikers Against Bullies and yourselves, a little bit about your history if you’re comfortable, and what your calling is.
[00:00:27] Veronica (Bikers Against Bullies): Well, we’re Bikers against Bullies and we’re a nonprofit and we’re in Lane County, Oregon, and we are the chapter for all of Oregon. There is no other chapter in Oregon of our group, but we’re in every other state, and there’s over 55,000 patched members (Nice) of our group and our main headquarters is Missoula, Montana. (Yeah. We love Montana!) We love Montana. (Yeah.)
[00:00:56] And you can either have a bike or not. We don’t care. The point is to help people and help your community and help kids. So, if you have two wheels and a Harley or whatever, more power to you. But if you don’t, and you just are walking or you’re in a car, we still want you to help and join us.
[00:01:17] We really do, because, I mean, we have people from all walks of life, all income brackets, all—Some of the best helpers we’ve ever had were the ones that were the most down, out, had it hard, you know.
[00:01:32] And I love that because that just shows the dirt of the earth. You know, earth people, you know, you could have problems in your life, but when you actually start helping other people, your problems don’t seem like—.
[00:01:47] We help the schools. We raise money for families that maybe don’t have the nice clothes or the whatever. We do all the spectrum of everything. We raised toilet paper for ShelterCare. They called us up and said, ‘You know, this is a really strange question, but Veronica, we have no more toilet paper.’ (Wow.)
[00:02:04] So we went and we raised tons, a whole flatbed of toilet paper for ’em. We have zero operating money, but we have thrown some of the hugest events, some of the biggest things to help kids and parents and stuff, and we continue to do it with nothing. (Wow.)
[00:02:22] So that shows you, you don’t have to be rich to change the world. You don’t have to even have, you know, a car, whatever. It does not matter. Each and every one of us can make a difference if we just care. (Care.) It’s so simple. It really is simple.
[00:02:38] I mean, we have kids come up to us and you know, their parents are tired. They’re working double hours, less pay, they’re tired. They’re poor people. They’re just tired. (Yeah.) And then they have to do all this eccentric homework that they never did as a kid. So now they’re really lost on some of this homework nowadays. (Yeah.) Because it’s way out of their league. They’re like, ‘What are you learning?’ (Yeah.) Yeah. And, they’re lost.
[00:03:01] Lost, and then their kid kind of gets lost and then the kid is spending time with maybe the wrong people, or maybe he’s alone and has no friends. Parents don’t always know that this is going on.
[00:03:12] Simone (KEPW Storytime): It’s so true. I mean, like I see it all the time. Yeah, and it’s so actually reassuring to know that there’s an organization that exists like yours.
[00:03:23] Veronica (Bikers Against Bullies): Well, I was in Gabriel’s Army Against Bullying. (Okay.) And it was about a seven-year-old boy here in town that got his arm broke in like four or five places. And they did not, the school did not call the mom (What?!) Instead they put the kid in a room, side room and then snuck him off to the car of the principal and drove him to the hospital. And the mom didn’t find out, except for a neighbor came over and told her.
[00:03:51] So they called me because I was, I did a lot of advocacy work and specialist work like that, and dealt with a lot of school issues, you know, in some of the special areas that I was working with. And they said, ‘Will you help, Veronica, blow this story up and show them what is really happening here? This is not fair. This mother does not, you know, she doesn’t have a lot of money. He’s on, how many surgeries he’s had now? They will not tell even the mother who did it, or how to get ahold of the parents. Nothing.’
[00:04:24] So needless to say, we lit it up. We brought all these bikers there, and we almost got arrested ourselves because we weren’t going there to fight or to be angry or mean. We just wanted answers.
[00:04:37] As a community, there’s nothing wrong with saying, ‘Hey, I don’t really understand why you guys are acting this way. You’re taking my tax-paying dollars. Please explain.’
[00:04:48] Well, you get called the terrorists nowadays if you do that kind of stuff. (Wow.) You know, you get called, you know, they took pictures of us like we were, you know, terrorists or whatever. (Wow.) And it was, it was a really beautiful moment though because the bikers all sat there and they gave, they walked the little boy out and he had his little cast on and stuff, and they gave him a ride right in front of the school. And we all lit up our pipes and roars and roars and they just took the kid back and forth in front of the school and all the kids saw and it was cool and everything, and that kid got a little bit of empowerment. (Nice.)
[00:05:24] He never got bullied again. And maybe people think that’s stupid, you know, (No!) that, that maybe adults got involved with that, but you have to stand up. I don’t care if it’s an adult getting bullied (His arm was broken!), if they’re disabled, you know.
[00:05:42] Everybody watched that kid get hurt and nobody did anything (Anything!) until we stepped in and we started holding up signs saying, ‘Be kind, Don’t bully.’ (Yeah.)
[00:05:50] We took tar paper, you know, a roll of tar paper for a roof and we made one entire sign so it would cross the road. It said (‘Be kind’) yeah, ‘Be kind,’ and it’s such a simple thing. (Yeah, it is.) You know, ‘Stand up and be heard.’ That’s what Bikers Against Bullies, our slogan is, and our mission statement is, It basically doesn’t matter what you want to be in life, but be the best that you can at it. (Yeah.)
[00:06:15] Be the best you that you can be. And we’re about empowerment for these kids, kids that are committing suicide. They’re in that moment, you know, at that moment, their life feels devastated. ‘Oh my God, I have no friends.’ You know? They’re not thinking, right? (Yeah.)
[00:06:31] So we try to take these kids and show ’em, ‘Let’s look five years down the road, let’s get a plan going. What are your dreams? What are your goals? Let’s look past all this bull that’s going on now and see something further.
[00:06:44] My niece committed suicide. And she had just turned 16, just a few years ago, up in Bend. And I’ll tell you, I was already doing this when this happened and so you don’t think it caught me off guard? So see it, it can slip by any of us. So it’s important that as a community, we watch these kids and we make sure they’re getting the help they need. You see a kid that’s being bullied, stand up and be heard!
[00:07:07] Tell somebody! (Yeah.) As a parent, if you see another person’s kid getting bullied or if your kid’s bullying, yes, stop it! Notice it and do something because these kids grow up and (God, let’s hope they grow up), but once they grow up, do you want them to have the problems that come along with a lifetime of bullying? (No!)
[00:07:28] No, it psychologically screws you up. Yeah. I don’t want any of those kids to have to go through that. (Yeah.) And the disabled kids really get it. Yeah. Yeah. The autistic kids that, and so we’re trying to bring more awareness and more support for the parents too, of autistic kids, and you know, we’re starting a peer group for the parents and different things.
[00:07:50] So those parents can get together and then those kids can network together and become friends, so they’re not just all alone out there alone. (Oh my God, that’s the worst.) So if any parent needs us, yeah, Facebook Bikers against Bullies, Lane County Chapter.
[00:08:05] And anybody that wants to join us and help us do this, I will personally make sure they get a sticker and a patch and we have shirts that say ‘Bullies are turds.’ And ‘Don’t be a douche,’ and ‘Respect.’ And we’re all about respect too, in that way. Yeah. Kids don’t know that word very much nowadays. (Yeah.)
[00:08:25] You know, we’re about pushing some of those old-fashioned—you know, was it really that bad when kids didn’t talk back to their mothers and call ’em bad names? (No). It was, it was an okay time. It was kind of cool. I’m not saying we need to go back to the Leave it to Beaver, but there’s nothing wrong with some structure like that.
[00:08:40] Simone (KEPW Storytime): Yes. Structure makes them feel safe.
[00:08:45] Veronica (Bikers Against Bullies): Yeah, it does. And we notice the kids that have that do a lot better than the ones that don’t. (Yeah.) And if the parent is having a hard time, like with, you know, many hours at work, they are more than welcome to call us and we can get a mentor that helps their kid. Or we build a bike—
[00:09:07] I don’t care if your kid is 28 years old or 32, come to the peer groups and stuff and, and let them make friends with other ones that are that age and so they have somebody, (Yeah) some friends, you know, because I keep hearing from parents, ‘My kid has no friends.’ And that doesn’t have to be like that. (No, it does not.)
[00:09:27] We do proms so if you know any little princesses or princess—Rodeo King, we do for the boys. (Oh my gosh!) You let us know and we get beautiful limos and everything and all the bikers dress up in tuxedos and dresses and big prom dresses, and (How much fun!) I know! We get all these people to help us in the community donate and stuff.
[00:09:50] And that’s another thing. We have zero money. Our headquarters gets all the money. We have zero in our chapter, but we’ve had, how many, gosh, proms have we had? We’ve had so many, so many limos, so many, I mean, people help us because it takes a village. (Yeah.) And that’s such a simple (Yeah), It just takes a village. It does. And if anybody wants to be positive, then that’s, we’re who you want to be around…
[00:10:16] When I first started, what I did out of respect for the other groups that are around here and stuff is I went to each different group and I said, I’m going to be starting this kids’ organization, I want your support and I want your blessing.
[00:10:31] Because that shows respect. You know, I don’t want to impede on anybody’s ground. I mean, they gave me a run for my money a few times, you know, trying to see how far I, how much I could take. (Yeah.) And listen, my nuts are steel. (Oh my God.) Okay. I’m just going to say it like this. Yeah. (Oh my God.) Yeah. It’s all good. Now, Ryan Lewis, you want to say anything?
[00:10:57] Ryan (Bikers Against Bullies): Respect, you know, if kids aren’t learning it today, they’re going to learn it in prison, sadly. And I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life and I learned respect in prison, and you don’t really want to go that route. So if I can avoid, or, prevent that from happening to anybody, I’d like to try to do that, but… (Amen.)
[00:11:19] Simone (KEPW Storytime): Fantastic. That is fantastic. This has been Veronica and Ryan with Bikers Against Bullies. Woohoo. And look them up on Facebook, Bikers Against Bullies, the Lane County chapter. (Woohoo! Yeah, baby!)
Listen to Storytime on KEPW 97.3 FM Wednesdays at 8 p.m.