Bikers ride to help abused children

Safe Harbor helps victims on road to recovery
Bikers ride to help abused children

About 200 motorcycles cruised into Middleton Saturday to reach their final destination on the Ron Boylan Safe Harbor Ride.

Former Dane County chief deputy Ron Boylan helped create the event for Safe Harbor nine years ago.

Safe Harbor is a program that helps abused children through the painful process of going to court and assists those victimized in their recovery.

Ron Boylan died of cancer in 2010, but fellow officers ride in his honor, doing their part to raise money and awareness for the cause.

“Motorcyclists always come together,” Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney said.

It was Karie Cattanach’s fourth year on the 100-mile ride.

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“You start looking and as far behind you as you can see is bikes,” she said. “As far in front of you as you can see is bikes. There were just so many people out there today. It was a great experience.”

A former Dane County assistant district attorney, Cattanach is passionate about Safe Harbor.

The organization provides a place for young abuse victims to turn to, bringing together social workers, law enforcement, people in the justice system, and more, to sit the child down for one interview.

Consolidating multiple interviews into one prevents any victim from reliving the moments of abuse more than they have to, and still be successful in court.

“(It shows) what it means to be a team and really come together to work for the good outcome of the kids, it works so much better,” Safe Harbor Ride committee chair Brenda Nelson explained.

“It allows children who are victimized to begin the healing process much quicker,” Mahoney added.

It only just starts with the interview. Safe Harbor offers support for the victim and family members throughout the entire healing process.

“We also do the case coordination afterward, we link them to counseling and therapy to stabilize their lives,” Nelson said. “We link them to the medical community if they need medical exams.”

“It does so much good all over across the board for these children and for going after the perpetrators of some of these heinous offenses,” Cattanach recalled.

Nelson said grant money for programs like Safe Harbor are harder to come by, so the kind of financial support they get from the motorcyclists every year is needed to pay staff salaries. This year, the goal was to raise $20,000 with the event.

“Great roads, great riding, great fellowship for a very valuable program,” Mahoney said.