Roar of Awareness

HOUGHTON – The Barbara Kettle Gundlach Shelter had always observed Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October with a solemn ceremony of some kind.

Three years ago, Executive Director Mary Niemela decided to shake it up.

“I thought, ‘Let’s make some noise. Bring it out into the community, and raise as much awareness as we can,'” she said.

Monday night, that took the form of lines of motorcycles roaring down U.S. 41 to raise awareness of the toll domestic violence takes on the community.

The riders made up the third annual Ride Against Abuse, which began at the AmericInn in Calumet and concluded at the Kestner Waterfront Park in Houghton.

This year’s event drew 54 bikes, more than twice as many as last year, Niemela said.

“Bikers, especially, they like to join together,” Niemela said. “It’s exciting to see this many people out here against domestic violence.

Niemela was also pleased by the number of women involved with the ride.

“That’s my goal, is to keep talking and get everybody involved – men and women.”

Brandon Pelto of Calumet rode for the second year as part of the Kingdom Riders, the local chapter of the Christian Motorcycle Association. He has family members who have been victims of domestic violence.

“To me, it’s a special thing,” he said of the ride. “Even though you’re dispersed among many different organizations, it’s a lot of special meaning.”