The mission of the Gulf Coast Outlaws is to change the negative perceptions people may have about Motorcycle Clubs.
They start in their own community.
This holiday season, club members have collected over 1,000 coats during a drive through their Navarre clubhouse and plan to donate them to residents in need. They also raised $ 2,300 to fund Christmas celebrations for three families who went through tough times.
“I think the ‘Sons of Anarchy’ generation really dampened people’s opinion of the motorcycle club and kind of gave them a distorted view of things,” said Preston Perry, member of the Gulf Coast. Outlaws, who helped lead this year’s charitable efforts. âOutlaws as a whole have always been good at the community. We are very aware of those who are in pain and in need. I just understood that we have so many bodies, how can we help people? “
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Perry, better known by his nickname “Gorilla,” said club members recognize community members are in need and want to give back.
âWinter is a struggle for a lot of people, just like the holidays, and what better way to help people than to put a coat on their backs? ” he said.
The Outlaw members have a distinctive look, wearing leather jackets featuring the Outlaw â¢ emblem of a red-eyed skull against a pair of intersecting motorcycle pistons. Perry said they pride themselves on the fact that they stand out in any crowd of non-cyclists.
âWe don’t want to fit into society. We like to look different,â he said. “We love that people think what they’re going to think, but at the end of the day we give back and do things that other people don’t. So let them think what they want.”
The coats collected by the club will be distributed to four organizations in three counties. The club plans to bring coats to two locations in Escambia County, the Heavenly Blessings Mission in Pensacola and Montclair Elementary School. Family Promise of Santa Rosa in Milton and Children in Crisis in Okaloosa County will also receive a share of the coats.
Outlaws are fairly new to the Navarre region and Perry said their charitable efforts are a way to introduce themselves to the community.
âWe’re a whole new chapter here in this area.â¦ The clubhouse was created but last year it just became a shared clubhouse with the Southern Saints,â he said.
In total, around 10-15 Motorcycle Club Chapters spread across Northwest Florida helped collect the coats, including the Outlaws and their âSupport Clubs,â the Southern Saints, Overlords and Brothers United.
âEveryone reached out to people in their own community who knew they had stuff,â said Perry, who owns the Gulf Coast Cycle motorcycle store in Pensacola and operates several bars and establishments between Pensacola and Century. âPeople obviously went into their own closets and their own pockets and bought some new stuff. It was really an impressive effort. We didn’t expect it to be that great.â
The effort has proven to be so successful that Perry said the club plan to do it again next year and for years to come.
Merrick Johnson of the Jacksonville Outlaws drove six hours to the Panhandle to contribute to the good work his fellow club members were doing in Navarre.
âEach chapter does something for the community to give back, and we really care about the community and everything. We care about having a strong relationship with them and just giving back,â said Johnson, nicknamed âSlowpokeâ. “. “We make enough money on everything to be able to give back to the community.”
Like Perry, Johnson said many motorcycle club members are misunderstood.
âWe just don’t think the rules that are imposed in society are 100% correct. We don’t think everything is fair about it. So we live by our own thing,â he said. âIt doesn’t mean that we go out and deal drugs and rape and looting. It just means that we live on a different pace than normal people, and people want to despise that because it’s not there. society standard, but that’s just how we inhabit. “
In other words, don’t judge a book by its cover.
âThe concept that people have or what people are trying to do with us is so far removed from what it really is. We are here for the bike and the brotherhood,â said Perry. “They are just like-minded people under one roof.”
Colin Warren-Hicks can be reached at [email protected] or 850-435-8680.