- Associated Press - Sunday, June 26, 2016

KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) - Each month, members of the Kokomo Harley Owners Group (HOG) Chapter 1252 donate money and non-perishable goods to one local organization in order to give back to the community.

“Our chapter has members from Cass, Howard, Miami and Tipton counties,” said Trish Kuepper, Ladies of Harley officer.

This Kokomo area biker chapter chooses one community organization from one of the counties each month, then delivers between $40 to $50 dollars and a bag or two of non-perishable food items.

For the month of June, they’ve chosen Kokomo Urban Outreach in Howard County.

Although it’s a small gesture, it certainly challenges the standard biker image, said Kuepper, who has been with the group for the past six years.

“A lot of our people are retired; others of us are still working,” Kuepper said. “We’re just regular people, and we just like to ride motorcycles.”

Established in 1999, the Kokomo HOG Chapter 1252 brought together 196 members who share a love for and own Harley motorcycles.

Although membership has since declined - there are currently 55 members - the group continues to bond over a common interest while giving back to the community.

“We all know there is so much need in the community,” Kuepper said.

And because there is often a stigma that goes along with putting on that leather biker jacket and bandana, Kuepper wants everyone to know that the Kokomo HOG Chapter, along with the Ladies of Harley, are members of the community who love to see good in the community.

But not everyone sees it that that way.

During the monthly HOG chapter meeting, a member told about a recent time when the group was turned away from a local restaurant. The establishment refused to serve a large biker group.

“When he first told us that the ride was going to be changed because they did not want a biker group, we just all were stunned,” Kuepper said, still with a smile on her face.

Going forward, she hopes people’s views on bikers begin to change.

“Hopefully people just realize that we’re just regular people and if we can help make a difference, we’re going to be out there trying to do it,” Kuepper said.

“A lot of people have the stigma that. one biker is the same as all other bikers, but we’re not,” said Harold Hostetler, a charter member in the chapter. “I think it helps when people see that we’re more than just a bunch of people out raising Cain or what have you. We’re a little more concerned about what people think of us.”

He and his wife, Dolores, have been members since the chapter first started. And through continued community service, it is their hope the conversation surrounding biker clubs changes.

“We just give,” Dolores said. “The Ladies of Harley does do a lot of volunteering and also donating. The money that we make all goes back to the community. So it just makes us feel good.”

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Source: Kokomo Tribune, https://bit.ly/28QoF7W

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Information from: Kokomo Tribune, https://www.ktonline.com

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