Shannon Benzenhoefer is well aware that membership in the local chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse International that she is working to start will be the furthest thing from easy.
It’s not a “fun” club, she explained, but it is necessary. The organization empowers children with documented cases of abuse to take back their own lives and to live without fear, through the physical and emotional support of members.
“When it comes down to it, the things that we will encounter, the people we will see and meet, it’s going to be heart-wrenching,” said Benzenhoefer, who lives in Struthers. “To say it’s going to be easy to do — it’s not. You can never take away what happened to that child.”
Still, more than 35 people — bikers, riders and supporters — already have expressed interest in joining the local BACA chapter, and a first meeting is scheduled for Aug. 3. Benzenhoefer said she became serious about taking the steps to start it once she realized that the area lacked a nearby chapter; the nearest existing one is several hours away.
She added that this initial action came about a year after Teddy Foltz died on Jan. 26, 2013, at age 14. Teddy, a victim of child abuse, had lived only a few blocks away from her and her husband, Mike Benzenhoefer. The couple didn’t know Teddy personally, but the situation hit too close to home.
“No one seemed to know this was going on,” Benzenhoefer said.
Benzenhoefer is hopeful this fledgling BACA chapter will help to give the area’s abused children a voice, and also help them to survive, both physically and emotionally, one of the most horrific situations of their young lives.
Read more about the chapter and how to help in Sunday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.