Over 100 Bikers Expected at Saturday’s Riding for a Voice

By Jayna Smith

Kayla Garriott (center) with her parents, mom Robin and step-father John Bouchard--at the last Riding for a Voice event in 2012.

Robbinston-native Kayla Garriott has become a well-known woman not only locally but nationally as well.  Founder of the non-profit organization she named “Breathe the A.I.R. (Abuse, Incest, Rape), Kayla turned her own very negative experience into a positive one to help others and to raise awareness for sexual abuse, incest, and rape. 

It was after seven years of sexual abuse by her biological father when her mother Robin found a journal written by Kayla.  This journal was a written account of what Kayla had been experiencing at the hands of her father—she was manipulated, controlled, drugged, and sexually abused until her senior year of high school.   After involvement by the police, thanks to the discovery of the journal, followed by legal proceedings where Kayla testified against her father, her father was put to prison for twelve years for the crimes he committed against her. 

Testifying against her father was a feeling of mixed emotions for Kayla.  “I was nervous but angry and knew that the result of my testimony was going to be a game changer for how I went about the rest of my life.”  Kayla was quick to bring her experience to the eyes of the public.  “I wanted to make a big deal about it and raise awareness this crime needs,” she said. 

Since the painful ordeal, Kayla started her non-profit organization Breathe the A.I.R.  According to its website, www.breathetheair.org, its mission is to provide support to the victims and survivors of sexual abuse, incest, and rape, with a focus on awareness and education.  She has spoken to countless students, among others, and has been interviewed on numerous radio and television stations, even having had her story featured on the television show “Who the ‘Bleep’ Did I Marry?”  Kayla has strong hopes that with the much needed support and encouragement, others will be inspired to speak out. 

“I’m currently hoping to raise money to start developing a program that I can teach to local providers to use with survivors of sexual and physical assault,” Kayla explained.  She hopes to use her degree in occupational therapy to have a different approach.  “I believe the more options for treatment, the better survivors have a chance of living life focused on their future, rather than dwelling on their past.” 

This Saturday, on August 23rd, over one hundred people are expected to take part in the third ever “Riding for a Voice” motorcycle run.  Kayla started this ride as a way to raise awareness for her cause and to break the silence of sexual abuse, incest, and rape, and she encourages those in cars to also take part to help show support.  “Each year the ride has grown,” Kayla said.  “We are hoping this is the biggest ride yet with the other organizations joining us such as Bikers Against Child Abuse, AMHC (Aroostook County Mental Health) Sexual Assault Services, and the Wabanaki Warriors.” 

This motorcycle run will start in Calais at Ceaser’s Pub & Grill with registration at 9:00 a.m.  Across the street, the Wickachee Restaurant will donate $1 to the cause from every breakfast served to participants of the ride.  At 10:00, the large group will head to Eastport’s The Chowder House, followed by Lubec’s Cohill’s Inn.  Many items have been donated as door prizes with t-shirts given to all paid participants.  Additionally, in honor of Kayla’s dog Swizzle, participants who bring a can of pet food for P.A.W.S. will receive an additional door prize ticket.  Those interested in helping AMHS Sexual Abuse Services can also bring new or slightly used yoga wear and/or new flip flops to have his or her name entered into a separate prize drawing.

For more information about Breathe the A.I.R., one can request to join the group on Facebook or visit www.breathetheair.org.