Motorcycle club serves Abilene community
Look past the leather and chains, the skull insignia, the overall biker look, and you’ll see something that seems to be out of place: “Romans 12:10.”
Look up the scripture and it says, “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
And that is what the Fortune Fidelis is all about – honoring one another and the larger community. In fact, it was an impromptu service project in 2018 that kickstarted the club’s current status as a go-to group whenever local nonprofits need assistance with projects or fundraising.
On the spur of the moment back in October 2018, several club members decided to pick up trash in a vacant area near Sam’s Club. Someone saw the bikers cleaning the lot and notified the media. A television crew came out and a reporter asked the members why they were doing that piece of dirty work. The same mentality that guided the group to clean the lot that day guides them today.
“Because no one else will,” was the answer the reporter got from the club’s founder and president, Vic Lackey, whose business card says Vic “Vegas” Blackhat. His wife, Ruca, who is in charge of public relations for the club, goes by Ruca Blackhat on her card. “Blackhat” is a reference to the way many people view bikers, Vic said.
“We’re trying to change the perception of who bikers are,” Vic said. “We’ve made good strides.”
The club’s good deeds and the attitude, “Because no one else will,” are the reasons behind those good strides. Since that initial project four years ago, which netted 86 bags of trash, the club has undergone a name change, added members, and raised thousands of dollars to benefit local charities. A major fundraiser, Fortune Fest III, is scheduled for May 27 at 201 Mesquite Event Center. Go to www.fortunefidelis.com for details and to get tickets. All the proceeds from Fortune Fest benefit local charities.
The club originally was known as Fortune Riders, Inc., but was rebranded as Fortune Fidelis to better reflect what the club stands for.
“We are fortunate to have each other,” Vic said. “Not everybody has that.”
Club members frequently ride in parades and assist with projects like cleanup days and preparing care packages for people in need. A heavy emphasis is placed on projects for children and for veterans. In fact, many of the members have a military background, although that is not a requirement for membership. Some of the veteran-related events include assisting with the Wreaths Across America event held in December at the Texas State Veterans Cemetery, Flag Day, Fourth of July, and Veterans Day parade.
The club also participates in the Toys for Tots campaign and has helped raise funds for other causes related to children. The club partnered with the Taylor Jones Humane Society to purchase a puppy and pay for his training to become a service dog for a boy with autism. And, they sponsored 11 Special Olympics athletes.
“That was a big deal,” Vic said, “but we weren’t done there.”
Far from it. The group’s list of services and goods provided for people in need is lengthy and growing. A welcome letter on the club’s website says the group entered 2022 “with larger goals, greater ambition, and an unparalleled sense of service.”
Much of that sense of service comes from a close tie to military service. Vic, a 2002 graduate of Abilene High School, served in the Air Force six years. He spent 0time in such far flung places as South Korea, Germany, Greenland, and Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Others in the club have strong military ties, too, even if they aren’t veterans. Vic’s mother, Mickey “Gemma” Lackey, who is marketing director for the club, is the daughter of an Air Force veteran who was stationed at Dyess in the early 1970s. Peaches Floyd, fundraising director, is the daughter and granddaughter of Navy veterans. Her grandfather was a World War II veteran and her father served while Peaches was growing up.
“I grew up a military brat, I guess you could say,” Peaches said.
And, of course, the members all share a love of motorcycles. Vic started riding when he was 17 and traces his love of bikes back to his great-grandfather, who was one of the first presidents of the American Motorcycle Association club in Indiana. Vic’s mother, Mickey, is quite familiar with the memorabilia her
grandfather collected, including trophies and a shadowbox filled with membership pins.
“It’s still hanging in my mother’s home,” Mickey said.
Club members love riding but they aren’t snobs about brands or types of motorcycles.
The Fortune Fidelis website makes that perfectly clear. The “How to Join Our Club” sections says, “We do not discriminate against color, gender, or who manufactured your bike.”
Vic rides a Harley-Davidson Street Glide and his wife, Ruca, has a three-wheeled Can-Am Ryker. Their daughter, whose biker name is “Face,” rides with her dad but also has a little moped type bike of her own. The nine-year-old, who’s “going on 23,” according to her dad, also is into the community service aspect of being a Fortune Fidelis member. She especially enjoys delivering care packages to places like the Salvation Army and the Betty Hardwick Center.
All those good deeds that the club members perform cost money. The biggest source of that money is from the Fortune Fest event, which is held twice a year. The last one, held in June 2021, drew 350 people, and even more are expected for the May 27 event at 201 Mesquite Event Center.
“These events are really important to keep those funds going,” said Peaches Floyd, fundraising director.
The love of riding and the love of doing good deeds are the common threads that weave among the group members. They meet monthly at the Key City Realty office on South Second Street that Mickey and Vic work out of. Mickey has been a licensed real estate agent for 25 years and Vic for 12 years.
At the January meeting, about 25 members attended, plus a dog and two children. The group conducted a business meeting, talked about the upcoming Fortune Fest, and discussed communal concerns, including the suicide of a young man related to someone they knew. Fortune Fidelis may be contacted to help with a fundraiser for funeral expenses, Vic said.
Fortune Fidelis emphasizes doing good in the community, and a section on the club’s website make it very clear that the group is not a stereotypical motorcycle club. It “does not claim any territory and is not an outlaw organization,” the site said. “Our simple belief is that bikers, in general, are good people and should help those in need.”
Simply put, everything the club does goes back to the motivation behind the first community service project in 2018, the one that resulted in 86 bags of trash collected from a vacant lot. Mickey, the club’s marketing director, described that event best.
“We didn’t do it for any reason other than it needed to be done,” she said. “We wanted to help the community.”
FORTUNE FEST III
When: Friday, May 27, 2022
Hours: 6-10:30 p.m.
Location: 201 Mesquite Event Center
Details: Fortune Fest is a fundraiser for Fortune Fidelis. All proceeds benefit local charitable organizations.
What’s included: Dinner, dancing, games, music, door prizes, raffles, silent auction
Tickets: www.fortunefidelis.com (Click on Fortune Fest)
By Loretta Fulton
Photography By Shayli Anne Photography