By Kelly Doran
The 100 bikes that Harleys Against Heroin attracted its first year last year will seem like nothing compared to what is expected this year.
The second Harley Against Heroin is set for July 25 and Nikki Patton, one of the founding members, expects more than 300 bikes.
A group of friends started Harleys Against Heroin last year to raise money to donate to organizations who don’t charge for treatment. They chose the First Step Home, the Gateway House and the Sojourner Recovery Services and they donate to a special fund set up at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center for babies born addicted.
“It’s just a group of us friends that started it. We’ve all been touched by it, whether it’s been a child, a family member, friend. We’re just trying to make a difference,” said Nikki Patton, one of the founding members.
The heroin epidemic has affected so many people and taken the lives of friends and family members, Nikki Patton said. They’re trying to get the people that want help into recovery.
Nikki and Keith Patton struggled finding a place to take their son when he was caught in a heroin addiction. They found that many places wanted hundreds of dollars a day or didn’t take his insurance, Keith Patton said.
“If you’re a drug addict, you’re stealing or doing whatever you can to get your drug, how are you going to go to a recovery center that wants $200 a day,” Keith Patton said.
There is not much help in Clermont County, which is why Harleys Against Heroin does not donate to organizations in the county. However, every place they donate to takes county residents.
People seem more aware of it this year than last year, Nikki Patton said. More people are getting involved and asking to help, Keith Patton added.
“But you know last year, a lot of people, they were kind of pushing this drug under the rug. They were trying to avoid it, you know, stay clear of it. This year it’s like it’s more out in the open,” Nikki Patton said.
There is a group on the west side of Cincinnati that contacted Harleys Against Heroin and asked if they could start their own ride and donate together.
Once both rides have taken place, the groups will combine their money and decide how to split it between the organizations they support, Nikki Patton said.
“It’s amazing the amount of response we’ve gotten this year, the amount of people that want to get involved,” Nikki Patton said.
Last year Harleys Against Heroin raised $3,200. Nikki Patton thinks they could easily raise $50,000 this year, although she hopes they raise more than that.
She believes in future years Harley Against Heroin will grow even more.
It costs $10 for a non-rider, $15 for a single rider and $25 for a couple, Nikki Patton said.
The group also sells Harleys Against Heroin shirts. Businesses can pay to have their name on the back, said Keith Patton. The shirts are available at several local bars.
Those interested in purchasing one can contact the group and they will direct them to the business closest to them that sell the shirts, or someone from the group will meet them or ship a shirt to them. People from across the country have bought shirts.
Registration begins at 10:30 a.m. and the ride leaves at noon from Phantom Fireworks in Amelia. Participants do not need to register in advance, Nikki Patton said. The ride will make a halfway stop at Snappers Saloon in Ripley.
The ride ends at Fatboys Dream in Felicity, where there will be vendors, raffle items and a split the pot raffle. In addition, Acoustic Edge, Taylor Shannon Band and Kaeli Spurlock will be playing, Nikki Patton said.
Those interested in donating can do so at an US Bank, c/o Harleys Against Heroin.
The group is also always looking for donations for raffles and volunteers for the event, said Keith Patton.