Men in black are good guys

Hollywood and the disregard for convention by some in real life gave motorcycles fanciers a bad name in the 1950s and for years afterward. Marlon Brando cloaked in a black leather jacket and with a sullen attitude in “The Wild One” was the model for early motorcycle-riding hooligans.
In more recent years, the character of many of those who covey up in motorcycle “gangs” has undergone a sea change.
Saturday about 15 members of the Iola-Chanute Living Hope Chapter of the Christian Motorcycle Association got together for CMA’s annual Run for the Son, a fund-raising event.
The local goal was $5,000. When the riders rode from Charlie and Roberta Johnson’s home in Gas a little before noon on Saturday, they had nearly that much money in hand. More will come in over the next couple of weeks.
The money they and thousands of other riders raise — in 21 previous rides $31 million has been — will go to Christian outreach and mission efforts, including local activities by CMA riders themselves. They wear their religion on their shirt sleeves, and seize every opportunity to share it with others.
The CMA isn’t the only motorcycle group to depart from the rough and tumble reputation and unlawfulness of the early day hellions.
The Patriot Riders, a closely knit organization that sprang from American Legion roots as counter point to Fred Phelps and his bunch of mean-spirited protesters, is another group of motorcyclists who are welcomed and cheered at numerous events. They have in many instances neutralized the hate and anger that the Phelpites spawn.
They have been much in evidence at events having to do with veterans, including funerals, and are so true to their cause that about 40 came at 2 a.m. on a September 2008 day to encourage and escort a busload of World War II veterans when they left Iola for an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C.
Other groups of riders are doing similar socially proactive projects.
Bikers Against Child Abuse has surfaced in fund-raising runs locally and others have had campaigns to help ensure better Christmases for needy families and children. Still others campaign against drunk drivers, animal cruelty, cancer, diabetes and hunger.
Collectively they’ve done much to make others’ lives better.

— Bob Johnson