Jackson County ABATE organization giving back


Members of American Bikers Aimed Toward Education in Jackson County are always thinking of others.

The annual Shari Stahl Memorial Toy Run raises money to buy gifts for Head Start children and their siblings at Christmastime.

Proceeds from the Hiller’s Holler ride go to the state organization to pay for materials and salaries at the state office and support lobbyists who protect motorcyclists’ rights.

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Benefits are conducted to help the variety of causes ABATE Bikers Care supports.

Plus, it’s common in the warm months to see groups of bikers going on rides together, either to support a certain cause or in memory of someone.

The way this year’s Jackson County representative sees it, though, local ABATE members can do even more.

In January, Bryan Layton had members collect hats, scarves and gloves to give to Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Food Pantry in Seymour.

That led to them doing a canned food drive for the pantry, and those items recently were donated.

Other acts of giving will continue throughout the year.

For Layton, it’s about changing the public’s perception of motorcyclists.

“I know there are a lot of stereotypes of bikers,” he said. “People look and see the guy with the big, long white beard and tattoos and wearing all leather and gruff, but I guarantee that to every one that is bad, there are 500 of them that have donated to this fund, this charity, this benefit, rode for this person, rode for funerals for people that he has never met because they are (an ABATE) member.”

ABATE of Indiana is a not-for-profit safety, educational, charitable and advocacy motorcyclist organization that aims are to promote safety, protect rights and help others.

“The ABATE family, the biker family, is a real unique conglomerate of people,” he said. “There are bikers that are executives, trash men, police officers, military, all walks of life. … And the amount of women riders is amazing.”

A person doesn’t have to own or ride a motorcycle to be involved. Layton said members can help with events or do fundraising.

“There are plenty of things that can be done with people who don’t ride,” he said. “They can register people at rides. They can come enjoy our parties afterwards and be involved in it. If you don’t ride a bike and become a member, you can bring a donation.”

For the hat, scarf and glove drive and the food drive, Layton shared information about them on the ABATE of Indiana Jackson County Region 7 Facebook page and encouraged members to bring items to meetings.

The success of those drives makes Layton hopeful for other projects this year.

“Members already are asking what’s next,” he said.

He also said he would like to sponsor a ride that will go toward the county’s brick fund. When a member dies, the group pays $100 to have a memorial brick with his or her name and county on it placed at the state memorial in Lawrence County.

For other projects, Layton said he’s open to members’ suggestions.

“There’s a large community out there, and the more people that get involved, the more that we can do to assist organizations,” he said.

Every weekend around the state, Layton said ABATE-sanctioned events are scheduled, so there are plenty of ways to get involved.

“There is no individual once you get a group of bikers together. They become family,” he said. “When you’re on the road riding, you’re watching your brothers’ and sisters’ backs, and they are watching yours, and it doesn’t stop once you’re off a bike. It’s an organization that does a lot of good, and it’s kind of behind the scenes that people don’t notice.”

ABATE of Indiana, which started June 25, 1975, represents nearly 13 percent of the registered motorcycles in Indiana with a membership of more than 20,000, according to abateonline.org.

ABATE has a full-time staff, 350 volunteer officers and more than 100 certified safety instructors dedicated to serving the interests of all motorcyclists, according to the website.

“ABATE of Indiana is one the largest motorcycle rights organizations in the world and one of the strongest,” Layton said. “We want to promote safety in motorcycling. We offer rider courses. We want to educate people on the proper way to do things with motorcycles. We want to protect the motorcyclists’ rights.”

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To be a member of American Bikers Aimed Toward Education in Jackson County, the annual cost is $25 for individuals or $45 for couples. For information, email [email protected].

A person does not have to own or ride a motorcycle to be a member.

For information, visit the ABATE of Indiana Jackson County Region 7 Facebook group page.

For information about ABATE of Indiana, visit abateonline.org.


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