April 25, 2016 --
The thunderous sounds of engines revved inside the gymnasium at West Town Elementary School, Albany, Georgia, as area riders from several motorcycle clubs and organizations assembled to entertain, educate and motivate students during a pep rally, recently.
As part of an ongoing outreach initiative, several Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany civilian-Marines as well as contractors; suited up in their traditional riders gear; joined more than a dozen other bikers and headed to the school for the event.
Marvin Thomas, chemical protection officer, MCLB Albany, discussed the activity, which brought his Viper Unit Motorcycle Club to the school, and listed other outreach efforts he and fellow cyclists in his group organizes and participates in throughout the year.
“We received a letter of request from Principal, (Steven) Dudley at West Town Elementary School,” Thomas said. “(He) requested bike clubs and motorcyclists to come out and help with the school’s pep rally and we went out to do that.
“Most kids like motorcycles,” Thomas continued. “So, our role with the motorcycles and with a lot of things we do within the community is to intensify and to heighten kids’ awareness. Our primary goal in being there was to give the (students) something they enjoyed.
“We want to (give them the opportunity) to look to us as some type of mentor and to motivate them to do better,” he added. “Maybe they will say, ‘Hey, I want to do great in school; I want to learn how to read better so maybe one day I can purchase my own motorcycle and be like those guys.’”
There were six cyclists from Thomas’ unit; additional MCLB Albany civilian-Marines from roughly six different biker clubs who volunteered to participate in the pep rally were: Willie Briskey, Dawn Hodge-Passial as well as contractors, Cambrell Adams and Jessie Frazier,
“We do charity rides for specific causes, whether it’s cancer (awareness) or to assist families experiencing losses due to fire,” Thomas explained. “So, we do (events) quite often. We also participate in (relief efforts) depending on requests or calls to help or donate in other causes.
“We interact a lot with the kids,” he said. “For example, my bikers club (sponsors) a Back-to-School Bash every year the first weekend in August; we give away school supplies to students; we also provide bouncy houses and other games for them. We’re now heading into our seventh year for that. We received a proclamation for that (event) in 2011.”
Briskey, physical security chief, Marine Corps Police Department, MCLB Albany, who was among the motorcyclists participating in the event, commented on his role in the activity.
“The principal or assistant principle at (West Town Elementary School) reached out to one of the individual motorcycle persons, who in turn reached out to the community via our group texting,” Briskey said. “He wanted us to come down as a tribute to the children who had raised their reading score by, at least, a hundred points or more. So, that was celebratory for them to say, ‘Job well done.’
“With that, we came down with a show of force,” he continued. “The local motorcycle clubs – me, being a Buffalo Soldier – Extreme Riders, Viper Unit, American Legion Riders, Street Phantoms, Ruff Riderz and Two-Wheel Riders.
“I took advantage of the opportunity (to participate) as part of the Marine Corps’ Crime Prevention Program,” Briskey said. “I went out there to do one of my few quarterly (presentations). I handed out bookmarks for bullying, cyber-bullying and things of that nature.”
Both Thomas and Briskey said their respective clubs participate in some type of outreach activity at least once every quarter during the year, and sometimes more frequently depending on special requests and activities within the community.