By Jason A. Smith
Motorcycle enthusiasts are expected to gather in Hampton this weekend, as part of a national event designed to raise money for the fight against child abuse.
The second annual Child Abuse Awareness Ride will be held Saturday, at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS). Biker organizations will gather in every state, with the exception of Tennessee and Michigan, to ride motorcycles, simultaneously, to raise money and awareness to tackle the problem of child abuse, according to Brenda "Fancy" Harris, of Griffin.
Harris is the founder of Hyway Angels, a non-profit organization focused on raising awareness of child abuse in Georgia. She said part of her motivation for holding the event comes from her own experiences, as a survivor of child abuse.
"I talk to people all the time who want to do something about child abuse, but they want to do it anonymously," she said. "They don't want their neighbor to know it was them that turned them in for abusing a child. This is a way for them to get involved, and not have to say who they are. I wish somebody would have done that when I was a kid."
Harris' husband, Howie "Hyway" Harris, said Saturday's local ride will take the form of a digital-camera scavenger hunt, involving local businesses that have pledged their support for the ride.
"People will have to take pictures, and find clues, in this hunt," he said. "It's going to cover four different cities -- Jonesboro, Fayetteville, McDonough and Griffin. We're expecting between 300 and 500 motorcycles alone, as well as cars and trucks. We've tried to keep this open for bikers and their families, and anyone who wants to come out."
Howie Harris added that 164 bikers banned together, last year, to raise $3,100 for Prevent Child Abuse Georgia. He hopes Saturday's ride will build on the success of last year's event at AMS.
"I'd like to see us double what we did last year," he said. "It just seems like this topic gets swept under the rug. Our basic motto is, there is no excuse for child abuse."
Last year's ride was held in memory of Katelynn Stinnett, a 2-year-old Kentucky girl, who died in 2008 after reportedly being raped and killed by a baby-sitter.
One local business, which is supporting the ride for the second straight year, is ABT Tattoos in McDonough. The tattoo parlor will serve as one of several stops for participants in the scavenger hunt.
The shop's owner, Denise Brennan, said it is important to get the word out about child abuse, to increase awareness among area residents.
"I really appreciate the people that do this event, to help children in need," Brennan said.
Registration for the ride will be held from 8 a.m., to noon, with the first group of riders scheduled to leave AMS at 8:30 a.m. The cost to participate is $15 per rider, and $10 per passenger.
Howie Harris said he expects a majority of riders to register on the day of the event. For more information on the Child Abuse Awareness ride, call Brenda Harris at (770) 374-0731, or Howie Harris at (770) 374-1119.