Motorcycle fundraiser to shed light on domestic violence

EVART — Motorcycle enthusiasts and community members will gather to raise awareness against domestic violence during the Eighth annual Mary's Dream Ride Against Domestic Violence this weekend.

On Saturday, Aug. 9, the riders will depart from Mount Pleasant and travel to the Osceola County 4-H FFA Fairgrounds in Evart. The event not only raises awareness and funds for local women's shelters and services, but also honors the memory of a Mount Pleasant resident who lost her life to domestic violence.

Mary Babb, an advertising representative with the Morning Sun Publishing Company, was murdered by her husband on Jan. 9, 2007, in the company parking lot in Mount Pleasant. The fundraiser was created by Babb's godfather to raise money for her son's education.

Organizer Beth Mills said the event now attracts bikers from all over the state and raises approximately $4,000 each year. The money raised benefits several local organizations dedicated to serving women and children, including WISE, Women's Aid Service Inc. in Alma and the Barbara Kettle Gundlach Shelter in Calumet.

"If shelters have a repair that needs to be done, we like to go in and make sure everything is being kept up," Mills said. "We just try to make sure the shelters stay safe for the women and children who need them."

Mills was Babb's coworker at the Morning Sun as well as a close friend. She said Babb's death remains important to the community and to her coworkers, who have placed a cross with Babb's name on it outside the building.

"That day is pretty instilled in me and my coworkers," Mills said. "I certainly wouldn't want to live through that as her son did. It was hard enough to live it the way I did, with a beautiful coworker being murdered the way she was."

Mills said organizers of the motorcycle ride work year-round to spread the word about Babb's story and the prevalence of domestic violence, attending festivals and parades in the area as often as they can.

The event is open to any motorcycle rider as well as community members who want to show support. Registration to ride will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday in the Morning Sun parking lot in Mount Pleasant. Riders will begin their journey at 11 a.m. and will arrive at the fairgrounds in Evart around noon. Registration is $25.

A lunch will be served in the community building on the grounds for $9 and is open to the public. Mills said community members are encouraged to follow the bikes to Evart and line the roads to show their support for the riders.

Last year, the event attracted about 60 motorcyclists, and Mills hopes to see around 100 in attendance this year. More than anything, she hopes those who attend will understand the importance of being kind to one another.

"Our main focus is to bring awareness to domestic violence," Mills said. "We all need to stick together and we all need to encourage each other. In Mary's memory, we will continue working on that cause to bring awareness and if we can help just one person a year, I think we've done a good thing."