The Marana Town Council declared September “Guardians of the Children Month.”
“Guardians of the Children” is a nonprofit organization led by motorcycle riders who come together to enjoy the open road and help residents learn about the resources available to prevent child abuse.
The ‘Wild West’ chapter of the national organization has about 60 members and serves Pima County and the surrounding area. The chapter’s goal is to recognize and react to child abuse. The chapter works with the public to educate them on the signs of child abuse. Their website mission page states that they “serve as advocates to provide strength and stability to families in crisis and be an answer to the prayer of an abused child or teen for courage, support and protection.”
Motorcycle riders pick a road name that has personal meaning. Members of the Wild West chapter use their road names when interacting with ‘Guardians of the Children’ missions. This is to protect the friends and family of members, as much as the kids think it is cool. The president of the Wild West chapter, Hillbilly, has a personal passion for helping
“For us it’s families first, jobs second and the mission third so we can always make sure we have it together to be there for the kids when they need us,” Hillbilly said. “We want to make sure when there is a child in need, we can do anything to help them. We have stood with them when they have to testify in court, and we have checked under the bed at night to make sure the boogeyman isn’t there. Whatever it is they need, we will be there for them.”
Wild West members deliver anti-bullying messages in local schools and offer aid to children and families in crisis.
Members make a time commitment to the children they help. That can range from a few hours each month to daily assistance depending on the situation. Full members must have access to a motorcycle. Supporting members are not required to have motorcycle access. All members must have a background check before being approved to join.
The Wild West chapter eventually hopes to install friendship benches in Marana schools. These benches are where a child can go to sit when feeling sad. Other children on the playground will know that when someone sits there, they need a friend. It’s one more way children can ask for the help they need and expand their support circle.
Marana regularly works with local groups that help the community. Over his 19 years in office, Mayor Ed Honea has looked for opportunities to help support the town. He is excited about the partnership with the ‘Guardians of the Children.’
“We are always looking for people to help our community,” Honea said. “These are motorcycle enthusiasts who want to help children. They have a mission to help young people stay safe. We are honored to have that group of people in our community.”
For more information check out the Town of Marana’s website or the Wild West Chapter’s website.