Living without fear

MOTORCYCLE RIDE: More than 50 motorcycle riders participated in the fifth annual Ride Against Domestic Violence on Saturday from Mount Pleasant to Evart. The event is organized by Mary’s Dream, a nonprofit domestic violence organization.

Motorcycle ride supports domestic violence awareness

EVART — Led by a police escort, more than 50 motorcycles roared into the City of Evart on Saturday in support of domestic violence awareness.

The fifth annual Ride Against Domestic Violence raised about $4,000 for women’s shelters in Mount Pleasant and Newberry.

The annual ride is held in honor of Mary Babb, an Evart mother who was murdered by her estranged husband on Jan. 9, 2007, in the parking lot of the Morning Sun, where she was employed. Thomas Babb was sentenced to 50 to 70 years in prison for Mary’s murder.

The motorcycle run is hosted by Mary’s Dream — a nonprofit domestic violence organization — and the Grey Dragons Motorcycle Organization. Riders from Grey Dragons chapters in the Upper Peninsula, Ionia, Macomb and St. Louis participated in Saturday’s ride.

FOR MARY: Shel Fox (left) and Sam Babb were some of the many who participated in the fifth annual Ride Against Domestic Violence on Saturday in Evart. The ride is organized in honor of Sam's mother, Mary Babb, who was murdered by her estranged husband in 2007. (Pioneer photos/Jonathan Eppley)

“It’s a sad event, but the bottom line is to continue to bring awareness to domestic violence,” said Shel Fox, Babb’s godfather and vice president of the Upper Peninsula chapter of the Grey Dragons. “About four women die each day from domestic violence. It’s an epidemic and a sad commentary on our society.

“I’m here for one reason — to make sure nothing happens to anybody else.”

Originally, the motorcycle run was designed to raise money for the education of Mary’s son, Sam Babb, 7. However, the family said that in the first three years, the event raised more than enough money for his future and insisted the money will go to help women’s shelters and organizations.

“We do this in Mary’s memory and for Sam, so he knows how much we loved his mom,” said event organizer Beth Mills. “We donate the money raised to local shelters so they can help more women when they walk in their doors.”

This is the third year that John Smolka, of Ithaca, has participated in the ride. He supports domestic violence awareness and enjoys the camaraderie of the ride.

“This is for a good cause,” Smolka said. “We’ve got a lot of people who keep showing up year after year to support this. … It’s about the only time I get to see the members of the other chapters, too.”

CLOSE UP: A biker's helmet was painted with flames and skulls. More than 50 bikers participated in a ride from Mount Pleasant to Evart on Saturday.

CHROME: Motorcycles are reflected in the chrome of a bike at the Evart Moose Lodge.

Sam Babb was among the more than 150 people who attended a pulled pork and chicken dinner following the ride at the Loyal Order of the Moose Lodge No. 2452 in Evart. He plans to participate in the event when he is old enough to drive a motorcycle.

His favorite part of watching the bikes roll in to the lodge was the police escort.

“I want to be a police officer (when I grow up),” he said. “I liked all the police cars, because of the lights and sirens. I liked the bikes too.”

For more information about Mary’s Dream or to donate to the cause, visit

Visit the photo gallery to see more photos from the Ride Against Domestic Violence.


Posted by Jonathan Eppley

Jonathan Eppley is news editor for the Pioneer. He designs and copy edits the Pioneer daily, and manages staff in the evening. Eppley joined the Pioneer staff in 2010. He can be reached at (231) 592-8357 or at

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