When big hearts happen to tough guys
July 3, 2007
When he’s not straddling his motorcycle, Dennis "Speedy" Sortor clears six-feet-two inches without much trouble. He likes to wear a black bandanna on his head and a leather vest in the summertime. He doesn’t ride slow. He doesn’t mince words.
So it might shock those who don’t know him very well when Sortor mentions that he’s played Barbies with a five-year-old girl and that he "really doesn’t care what people think about it."
But Sortor is the president of Utah’s Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA). A closer look at his jacket, and one finds "BACA" on his bandanna, and an official "BACA" member patch on his back. Sortor will tell you the white on the "BACA" patches represents the innocence of children, the red represents the blood of the children that has been spilled by child abuse, the fist in the middle represents his opposition to child abuse and the skull and crossbones are a warning to the child abuser.
The little girl who wanted to play dolls was one of the children he volunteered to protect through BACA during the process of taking her accused abuser to court. Sortor has volunteered with BACA for 11 years, and began the Wasatch chapter, one of 10 in the state of Utah.
This Saturday at The Canyons resort, Mountain Town Stages and Budweiser plan to host the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Jam to benefit BACA. It will be a big day for Sortor, who will ride from West Jordan to attend the event. His daughter, Cressalynn Pollock, is scheduled to marry Jake Evans between live performances by Foghat and Blue Oyster Cult at The Canyons’ Forum, and Sortor’s mentor, Chris "Lightnin’" Clark, an ordained minister and his predecessor at BACA has agreed to preside over the ceremony.
Toby Martin, executive director for Mountain Town Stages, expects 4,000 to 5,000 people to show up Saturday, and this is also big news, according to Sortor. That number would make the event one of the largest benefits held in BACA’s history.
Recommended Stories For You
Martin, who spearheaded the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Jam, says he’s been asked if the event is going to disturb the peace in Park City.
He responds that he hopes the event will not be like other motorcycle gatherings he’s attended, where four streets are closed for engine revving contests and tire marks stain the pavement.
Instead, the eight-hour event scheduled for Saturday will include a 50-mile Poker Ride, where riders receive playing cards at five stops (the rider with the best poker hand, wins); live concerts scheduled between 1 p.m. through 8 p.m.; motorcycle vendors, food and contests.
For good measure, Martin says he’s met with officers from the Summit County Sheriff’s Department and the Park City Police Department to ensure the Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Jam remains an "upscale, classy biker event."
The monies raised at the event will benefit BACA, and primarily, the organization’s child therapy fund, to help children continue the counseling initially paid for by the government, says Sortor.
Therapy, he explains, helps to assure that an abused child won’t "act up" later on and is central to the history of the founding of the organization.
BACA was founded by John Paul Chief Lilly, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a Registered Play Therapist/Supervisor, and part-time faculty member at Brigham Young University. According to the BACA Web site, he has been in practice for 20 years, primarily focusing on the treatment of abused children.
There were two major gaps in the legal system surrounding child abuse cases, according to Lilly: providing for the safety of the children and providing funding for their therapy. Despite protective orders, and removing convicted abusers from neighborhoods, Lilly observed perpetrators could continue to access and wound children.
After forming the first chapter in Utah in 1995, the organization grew quickly.
Sortor says the organization now has 100 chapters in 32 states, six in Australia, with talk of chapters in Canada and England joining soon.
Nick "Mayhem" Marvidkis is nearing the completion of the two-year initiation period (which requires near unanimous approval by his chapter and thorough background checks) before he earns the patch that will certify him as an official BACA member. Both of his parents, he says, are members, and his 16-year-old son often joins them at functions.
Until he’s a member, Marvidkis cannot sponsor a child, but he can be part of the ceremony when a child is chosen. He and nearly 50 other bikers ride to a home to introduce themselves, give the child a vest with a patch, a BACA teddy bear and a ride on a bike. It takes a little time, but soon the child feels comfortable. The ceremony "brings two worlds together," Marvidkis says.
Marvidkis is also allowed to go to court as part of BACA’s "big ugly family" to support a child who might be testifying on the witness stand.
"I’ve seen a judge ask a child ‘aren’t you scared?’" he recalls. "And the kid looked at us and then said, ‘no, I’ve got my family with me.’ I’ve seen a kid look a perpetrator straight in the eye."
Marvidkis explains he joined BACA because he doesn’t believe any child should be hurt. "Any child we can make feel safe, we’ve done our job."
What: Budweiser’s Big Event for BACA: The Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Jam, to benefit Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA)
Where: The Canyons resort’s Forum
When: Saturday, July 7, beginning at 9 a.m. at the lower parking lot at the Canyons Resort with a Poker Run Bike Ride for all classes of bikes. The event continues at the Canyons Forum with live music scheduled from 1 p.m. through 6 p.m. featuring Ramones tribute band "Ramones Alive" at 1 p.m., Southern rock tribute band "Mullet Hatchet" at 2:15 p.m., Foghat at 4 p.m. and Blue Oyster Cult at 6 p.m.; throughout the day there will be a tattoo contest, a "crack the safe and win" contest to win two bikes worth $50,000; and arm wrestling contests. Food, beverages, souvenirs and raffles to win autographed leather jackets (one from punk legend Joan Jett). A concert featuring heavy metal cover band "Metal Gods" will be held on Friday night, July 6 at Harry O’s.
Tickets: Tickets to the Metal Gods are $10 at the door at Harry O’s at 427 Main St. Poker Run Ride tickets can be purchased the day-of for $10. Tickets to the event at the Forum are $28 for adults; kids 12 and under can attend for free. Purchase tickets at SmithsTix.com and Smith’s Food and Drug stores.
Sponsors and vendors: Budwiser, Mountain Town Stages, Maverik, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Victory Motorcycles, Summit Honda, Tri City Performance, Rolling Thunder Motorcycles, Triumph, Big Dog Motorcycles, BMW, The Canyons resort, 94.9 The Blaze, Harry O’s, The Noname Saloon.