5th Annual Riding for a Voice Soars High

By Kaileigh Deacon

 

Two men received special thanks before the riders left: Jerald Garriott and John Bouchard, grandfather and step-father to organizer Kayla Garriott. Garriott said that the men provided her with positive role models in her life and gave her the strength needed to come forward about her abuse. (Photo by Lura Jackson).

For the fifth year Breathe the A.I.R hosted their Riding for a Voice in Calais. Breathe the A.I.R is a non-profit organization that was founded by Kayla Garriott a Calais High School graduate and survivor of sexual abuse to help survivors of Abuse, Incest, and Rape. 

Riding for a Voice has become an annual event that grows larger every year thanks to the support that Kayla, her family, and non-profit have received not only from the local community but from people across the state. The day begins with registration outside Caesar’s Restaurant a little time for people to get there, say hello, and get ready to ride. As with previous years, Local Sexual Assault Services from AMHC were on hand as well as BACA (Bikers Against Child Abuse).

 This year Michael McLean and the American Legion sent the ride off with a flag parade.  After riders registered and were waiting for the ride to start they could by tickets for the 50/50 raffle as well as purchase tickets for the Chinese auction. “All proceeds from the 50/50 raffle are going to the family of Michael Morrell,” Garriott said. A portion of proceeds raise will also be donated to Honor Flight, a program that sends Maine Veterans to Washington, D.C. to see the monuments.

Support for the ride, Kayla, and her organization has been growing with each passing year as the ride gets bigger and bigger. This milestone year saw the biggest turnout yet will 102 bikes and cars taking to the road Saturday morning. The route followed coastal Route 1 to Lubec and then ended back as Caesar’s where all were encouraged to stay and celebrate the day on the deck. 

More than just raising money to help organizations for victims of sexual abuse as well as other worthy causes, this ride has done something far more profound. The Ride, Kayla, and Breath the A.I.R. have helped other victims of sexual abuse to come forward and speak up. “More and more people are showing up and more and more people coming forward, especially to us, about what has happened to them. The motto of Breath the A.I.R and Riding for a voice is to “let your voice fly” and this event has certainly allowed that to happen.

Child Sexual Abuse, Incest, and Rape have a stigma attached to them where victims feel alone and afraid to talk about what has happened to them. Garriott and Riding for a voice are working to eliminate the stigmas and make it a topic that is talked about and addressed, not hidden. Garriot has talked to schools and other groups about abuse, incest, and rape to get the discussion going. 

 

“I can’t believe it’s been five years,” Garriott says amazed as more and more people register for the ride. The power of a person’s voice is an astounding thing and can help not only the individual but others as well. Riding for a voice is an event that unites the voice of everyone involved saying, “We will not stand for this any longer, any more.”