ABATE: More Than Just a Motorcycle Organization

JEFFERSON CO., Pa. (EYT) – While many people may be most familiar with ABATE as a motorcycle organization that lobbies for motorcyclists’ rights and safety, there’s much more to the organization and what they do for our local communities.

The Alliance of Bikers Aimed Toward Education (ABATE) is dedicated to the protection of the individual rights of motorcyclists through political change, but they also focus on public education and charitable works, as well.

“We do a lot community-wise,” John Pacsai, Vice President of the Clarion County ABATE Chapter, told exploreClarion.com.

According to Pacsai, the Clarion County Chapter regularly raise money for people and families in need in the county through benefit rides and other activities and also hold annual toy drives for families in need with young children.

“We have a committee that puts together any types of sponsorships, and we give out a lot of money,” he noted.

Bryan Baker, treasurer for Clarion County, noted that their toy drive last year raised about $15,000.00.

“Every bit of those toys went to kids within Clarion County,” Baker said.

Jeff Stevens, member and former president of the Venango County Chapter, said they raised money to provide 25 bikes, helmets, and other toys for Christmas for 25 families in need this year. They also help provide the annual Christmas party for children in foster care in Venango County.

“We pay for a portion of that and provide Santa and Mrs. Claus for the party,” Stevens said.

Venango County’s chapter is also planning to work with the new Riders Advocating Against Child Abuse organization in Venango County.

“We’re helping them get that off the ground. We support them wholeheartedly,” Stevens noted.

Likewise, in Jefferson County, the ABATE Chapter does a number of rides and dinners and even pool tournaments to help raise money for members of the community who are in need.

Last year the annual Veterans Ride for the Veterans Administration in Jefferson County had over 60 bikes and raised over $5,000.00, according to Chapter President Ben Steele.

Their annual Ride for a New Life, which raises money for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Penn Highlands DuBois Hospital, also usually raises between $10,000.00 and $13,000.00 each year.

While charitable giving is a big part of their mission, education is also another part, and with Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month approaching in May, education is on everyone’s mind right now.

“A lot of people construe us as bikers not wanting helmets, but it’s more about motorcycle education,” Stevens said.

According to Steele and Pacsai, the Clarion and Jefferson Chapters are taking that education to local schools.

“This year we started a program, that is a state program, called Operation Save A Life. What we do is have members that go to local schools and talk to students. They have a slide show and handouts for the students to make them more aware of what it takes to acquire a motorcycle license, to learn about hand signals, and just things to keep people safe on the road, as motorcyclists and as drivers,” Steele said.

While the program does include information on motorcycles, it’s about more than just that, Pacsai noted.

“The OSAL program is also talking about bicycles, off-road motorcycles, four-wheelers, and talking about safety with all of these things.”

As a rights organization, lobbying for legislation is also a part of what ABATE is about, but some of the issues they take on are more complex than people might expect.

“A big one right now is the autonomous vehicles,” Pacsai noted.

“Just making sure when they write the programs, they can see things as small as a motorcycle, or a bicycle, or a pedestrian, for that matter.”

Baker noted that ABATE was one of the organizations that pushed for mandatory motorcycle licensure.

“A lot of people ride without the proper license or ride on a permit every year, and keep renewing the permit. ABATE sponsored a bill to make it so you can only get a permit twice in ten years, then you have to take the test,” he noted.

All three chapters agreed on one major thing: They are always open to people who are interested in finding out more about the organization.

The chapters are always looking for more members.

“We encourage people to at least look into it, if not to join, at least to help with our benefits and get the word out about things. We need help to be able to help people,” Steele said.

“And, we are a family-oriented organization. This isn’t for adults only. My 14-year-old daughter is a member,” Baker noted.

The organizations meetings are all open to the public.

Meeting times/places:

Jefferson County Chapter: the second Sunday of every month in the basement of the Reynoldsville Eagle’s Club at 11:00 a.m.

Clarion County Chapter: the second Sunday of every month at the Clarion Moose Lodge at 10:00 a.m.

Venango County Chapter: the first Saturday of every month at the Franklin VFW at 1:00 p.m.

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