'High on UNITE'
Dealer-turned-preacher now selling anti-drug message
through motorcycle association.
MT. VERNON - When Gary Linville preaches about the danger of drugs, he speaks from experience.
"I got delivered from drugs myself," said the 49-year-old pastor at House of Refuge Church in Rockcastle County.
Whether passionately pushing his message from the pulpit or sharing a sermon from the seat of his 1500 Suzuki Intruder motorcycle, Linville has become a self-proclaimed "activist against the forces of evil, trying to rescue people" from the danger of drugs.
"Not only was I a drug addict, I was a drug dealer," Linville admitted. "I came within a hair of being destroyed myself."
Today he is president and founder of UBAD, a non-profit motorcycle riders association whose mission is to promote an anti-drug message and support treatment and education programs throughout southern and eastern Kentucky. A kickoff celebration for the organization is scheduled for Saturday, April 30.
'A wild lifestyle'
Dropping out of school as a teen, Linville said he chose to engage in "a wild lifestyle." He was eventually busted in an undercover drug investigation and elected to plead guilty to the charge. In 1980, "I accepted Christ in the Madison County Jail," he said.
After spending time at the Kentucky State Reformatory in LaGrange, Linville was granted shock probation and set out on what has become a 25-year clean and sober mission to turn his life around. He has since had all his citizenship rights restored.
A licensed and ordained Full Gospel minister for the past 15 years, Linville has criss-crossed the state as a minister and has devoted much of his time reaching out to youth.
"For years I was ashamed of who I was and what I did. I tried to hide from it," Linville said. "About five years ago I began sharing my testimony."
'Im not proud of what I did, but I'm proud I was delivered from that (drug culture)," he continued. "I want people to know there is hope; you don't have to be that way, or stay that way. This whole drug thing is a full-blown epidemic."
Bikers Against Drugs
One way Linville has channeled his message is through a love of riding motorcycles, but has found it challenging to steer around obstacles created by negative stereotypes.
"Bikers have a bad image," Linville acknowledged, noting unfavorable portrayals in movies and television shows combined with the occasional rogue "outlaw" gangs - only add to the problem. "There are a lot of Christian bikers, people who are against drugs. There are a lot of good bikers out there," he said.
With his renewed outlook on life, strong spirituality and love for the open road, Linville set
out to create something positive that would also show people
"we're not just riding up and down the road causing trouble."
The idea for a Bikers Against Drugs (BAD) group was born.
About the same time, Operation UNITE (Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment and Education) was beginning to implement community coalitions in each of the 29 counties it serves. Linville became involved with the Rockcastle County UNITE Coalition as co-chair, and stepped forward with an idea to hold a motorcycle ride fundraiser. The event drew approximately 50 bikers on a beautiful Saturday afternoon last September.
"That day, as we went from community to community, it was clear that the anti-drug message was out there and this was a good way to get the message out," said Danielle Wells, community activities coordinator for UNITE, who participated in the event. "Generally, people see bikers as being right in the sub-culture of drugs. When they're saying enough is enough, I think people pay attention."
It didn't take long for the wheels to begin spinning in Linville's brain, and BAD was renamed to the catchy acronym UBAD. "That was our goal, to unite bikers against drugs," he said. "I've been high on UNITE ever
since it started. God bless Operation UNITE."
From that day forward the flock of faithful followers has been steadily growing, and now
counts among its members law enforcement officers, judges, business and civic leaders, government officials. along with former drug addicts and dealers.
"We went out of a crawl into a dead run and never have slowed down;
Linville said, It's unbelievable the people God has brought me in contact with."
On January I, UBAD officially incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit faith-based organization and is now recognized as a separate UNITE coalition. All officers are volunteers, with any money raised being funneled back into programs.
"We're going to be involved in a lot of things," Linville promised. "We're going to be starting UBAD Teens, then go into the elementary schools with UBAD Kids Clubs. We want to let them know that drugs are not cool."
If you would like more information or to become a member or reprehensive of the UBAD movement please visit the UBAD website at http://ubadbiker.com
or contact Gary Linville bye-email at firstname.lastname@example.org
, or send a letter to 7223 North Wilderness Rd. Mt. Vernon, KY
If you would like to have Gary come and speak and minister at
your rally, church, or event please call (606) 256-9598 or (859) 302-2431,
For information on UNITE call 1-866-OP-UNITE.
Photo information (two pictures: one a mug, the other more personality)
Photo by Dale Morton/Operation UNITE Self-proclaimed "biker preacher" Gary Linville of Rockcastle County is president and founder of UBAD (UNITE Bikers Against Drugs). The organization, one of Operation UNITE's coalition groups, will be holding a regional kickoff celebration on Saturday, April 30, at the House of Refuge Church, located about five miles north of Renfro Valley on U.S. 25.
In 2003, Fifth District Congressman Harold "Hal" Rogers (R-Somerset) worked to create Operation UNITE, a regional anti-drug initiative empowering citizens groups and community leaders in 29 southern and eastern Kentucky counties.
UNITE, which stands for Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment & Education, seeks to fight the drug epidemic by expanding drug awareness and education programs to keep people from using. drugs; coordinating drug treatment and outreach programs for those who are already addicted; and operating regional undercover law enforcement task forces for interdiction and prosecution of those dealing drugs. Rogers has directed $24 million in federal funds to the counter-drug initiative over the past three years. For more information contact Karen Engle toll-free at 1-866-678-6483.
Treatment Referral Hotline - 1-866-90-UNITE (1-866-908-6483)
Dale Morton Communications Coordinator email@example.com
(606) 677-6179 1-866-0P-UNITE 1-866-678-6483
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