Riding for a Voice to End After Seven Years

Pictured is Riding for a Voice founder Kayla Garriott who with discussion with family and board members have decided that the Seventh Annual Riding for a Voice will be the last year of the event. The event has helped raise not only awareness for a topic once deemed not a topic to be discussed but also money to support organizations that help support the victims of these crimes. (Photo credit: Glenn Charles)

By Kaileigh Deacon

 

For the last seven years Calais and Route 1 have been filled with the roar of the engines of motorcycles and cars alike as they ride to give a voice to those that many times don’t have one. Founded by Kayla Garriott, Riding for a Voice is an event put on by the non-profit group Breathe the AIR to give a voice to victims of sexual abuse, incest, and rape.

Kayla is a survivor herself and has shared her story and journey with people all across the country to help raise awareness about the topic and to let other victims know they are not alone. Their mission is to help survivors and victims tell and share their stories and “Let your voice fly.” 

For the last seven years, Breathe the AIR, Kayla, her family and supporters have gathered in Calais for the Riding for a Voice event. “When I first started this event, I had no idea what to expect, I thought we would end up with 20 or so bikes and a few cars. I had no idea we would end up with 80+ bikes and 10+ cars on our first year. I think it made such an impact that people were willing to keep coming back. I think in some way it indicates that people believe in this event and what it represents and that means everything to me,” Kayla said. 

Every year the event has grown and helped the victims and survivors not only share their stories but also to get the support and help they need. One or two organizations are selected each year to receive the funds from the event to help with their work. This year, they selected AMHC Sexual Assault Services and Next Step Domestic Violence Project to receive the funds. AMHC has been part of Riding for a Voice in one way or another from the beginning as it is one of the only resources for sexual assault services in the area. 

“Next Step Domestic Violence Project is a new organization for us to donate to, and I honestly didn’t know about them until recently (that doesn’t say much as I no longer reside in the Calais area), but on the same scale of sexual assault, domestic violence is a cycle of abuse often including sexual abuse within the makeup. I witnessed nonphysical domestic violence growing up and it’s something that often gets swept under the rug. I hope, by us donating to them, people will also learn of their services that are provided.” Kayla said.  

While the event continues to be successful and has helped bring recognition and open discussion about a topic many would avoid, like all things, there must be an end. After many discussions and a tough decision, they have decided that the seventh year will be their last. The event has grown more and more with every year, and while choosing a time to end is never easy, the decision had to be made eventually. “The number seven has significant meaning across many cultures and religions. So on the 7th day of the 7th month of the year, I sadly announce the 7th annual Riding for a Voice will take its final ride,” Kayla posted on the event’s Facebook page. 

While the event itself may be coming to an end, the message and the support behind it will not. Breathe the AIR will still continue to exist and help raise awareness and share the stories of those involved. There is still so much work that needs to be done and Kayla and her supporters will never stop fighting. 

“I challenge those within our community to continue to raise awareness, keep sharing the story of this event, and never be silenced. I promise you that I will never stop sharing my story in hopes that it could help another,” Kayla said. 

Along with this being the event’s last year, there will be one other major change. Instead of following Route 1, this year’s Riding for a Voice will travel through Calais and up Route 191 to Machias where they will stop at the Thirsty Moose for a break and some ride trivia.

While the ride may be coming to an end, that doesn’t mean the mission behind it is. Organizations like AMHC Sexual Assault Services and Next Step need help to continue working to help victims and survivors. Riding for a Voice will take place on Saturday, July 21 at 9 a.m. at Ceaser’s Pub & Grill. Cost is $20 for one rider or $25 for two riders, which will include a t-shirt. Anyone who wants to help but can’t make the ride can donate to P.O. Box 74, Robbinston, ME 04671. You can also check out the organizations’ websites for wish lists and drop of the day of the event. For more information you can reach out through their Facebook page or via email at letyourvoicefly@gmail.com

 

“I’d like thank everyone that has ever taken part in this event in any way. We are forever grateful for this community and the one we believe we have built because of this event,” Kayla said.