The Guardian Angels of Big Sandy

The Guardian Angels of Big Sandy

by Susan Neuhalfen

They are accountants and electricians. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They wear leather, some have tattoos, and some are veterans. They have two things in common for sure: they love riding motorcycles and are against any form of child abuse.

The Guardians of the Children are the men and women you see riding their motorcycles down the highway in groups. They might look a little scary but it’s impossible to find a group of people with more compassion for children.

“They are Harley riders with big hearts and a love for children,” said Lake Dallas Mayor Michael Barnhart. “They are very involved in the community and help out with the annual backpack and health fair with LDISD as well as many other events.”

Just to clarify, they don’t all ride Harleys. They don’t discriminate against motorcycles or cyclists or anyone else for that matter.

Guardians of the Children was formed in San Antonio back in 2006 and now has chapters all over the United States and Canada. The local chapter serving Denton County is the Big Sandy Chapter in Decatur.

Each member has a road name. Shrek is the local chapter’s spokesman’s road name. Having been in law enforcement, he had seen first hand the damage that was done to children of abusers.

“I thought putting the perpetrator in jail was enough,” said Shrek. “Now I know these kids need a lot more help.”

One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they are 18 years old. That is why GOC stepped in. They are there to empower these children and help them learn that there are good people in the world who want to help them.

It all begins with one phone call from the parent or legal guardian of a child who has suffered abuse. Sometimes CPS tells the parents about GOC and sometimes they hear about it from friends. Two or three bikers are invited to meet the family members to see if this is indeed, a good fit for their group.

The GOC members then begin the “adoption” process. An adoption invitation is sent out to every GOC member in the country. Shrek said he’s ridden as far as Kansas and Oklahoma for adoptions. The legal guardians choose the where and when for the ceremony and then they come. 40-50 bikes come riding in, each wearing his or her GOC patch on the back of the vest. For a young child, or anyone, it’s a sight to behold.

The bikers make a circle around the child and begin introducing themselves. The child is given a leather vest with “Little Guardian” on the back as well as a certificate of adoption. The child is inducted into the GOC family and given his own road name but not until one more thing happens.

They have a special teddy bear for each child. The bear is passed around the circle as two riders at a time place the bear between them and hug the bear all the way around the circle.

“We tell the child that this is your bear,” said Shrek. “It’s full of hugs, but if it runs out of hugs, you just call us.”

Then, with the guardians permission, the child picks out the motorcycle he or she would like to ride on and they go for a ride. Extra riders are sent for safety as well.

They stay in contact with the family and sometimes they are called. Whether it’s a bad day at school or they just need someone to talk to, the GOC comes running when needed. They also invite them to birthday parties and special events, as they view them now as family.

“Tank (president) and Mama Bear (vice president) will drop whatever they’re doing,” said Shrek. “Sometimes they just want us to color on the floor with them, which when you think about it is quite a sight.”

The best thing the GOC does is to be there for the kids when it comes time for court and the child has to testify against his or her abuser. GOC will flood the courtroom with as many people as they can showing solidarity with their young member, who will be terrified facing their monster on the stand.

“We aren’t there to intimidate the defendant,” said Shrek. “ We are there to give that child the courage and strength to testify so that this person can’t hurt anyone else.”

Those who are interested in becoming part of Guardian of the Children must first go through a background check and then a year’s trial probation. It’s a safety precaution to know that the candidate has the children’s best interest at heart.

“If you ride, you’re welcome to come ride with us,” said Shrek. “Seeing the joy and light in their eyes start to come back, especially when we all ride together, it’s really great.”

Guardians of the Children donate their time, the wear and tear on the bike, the fuel and everything else. So any donations made will go straight to the child in need. Donations may be made at their website www.guardiansofthechildren.com/chapters/Texas/Decatur/BigSandy-contacts.htm


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