From massive shells to small poppers, the fireworks stand hosted by the Native Stone Chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse had just about every type of firework to suit a range of Independence Day festivities.
Beyond providing fireworks to the community ahead of the holiday, area members of the nonprofit, national organization said 100% of proceeds will be given to the children they serve.
Chapter President Michael Smith, whose biker name is “Snuffy,” said the money goes toward purchasing comfort items such as toys and blankets, as well as paying for therapeutic services.
“What we’re here to do is empower abused children to not feel afraid of the world in which they live, and we do that by lending them our physical and emotional support,” he said.
This is the first year the chapter has run its firework stand in Manhattan after holding it in Pottawatomie County for the past three years. The stand at 900 North Third St. is the chapter’s sole fundraiser.
The Native Stone Chapter serves Riley, Wabaunsee, Pottawatomie, Geary, Marshall, Clay, Washington and Morris counties.
Smith said the connections within BACA run deep, and members do everything they can to support children. For example, he said, if a child had a court hearing in a neighboring county, bikers will accompany them to that hearing and recruit other members along the way to attend as well. Members can also be a physical presence for children at home or in school to help them feel safe.
“We believe in one BACA,” Smith said. “We are one brotherhood, one sisterhood.”
During his time with BACA, member Christopher “Curmudgeon” Duran said he has seen “amazing” changes in the children it helps. Duran said the group recently purchased a punching bag to help one child let out aggression. The chapter even had a Krav Maga instructor on hand to show the child how to punch correctly, and the group received positive feedback. Duran also said another boy he met had been timid and shy at first, refusing to go near the motorcycles, but now he has opened up.
“If you see him now, he’s a totally different child,” Duran said. “It’s amazing to see that just the fact that our presence helps. We say we’ll be there and we’re there. We keep our promises. (The children) get choices so they can start making decisions on their own as opposed to being told what to do, and it gives them confidence.”
The fireworks stand is open through 10 p.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. to midnight Thursday.