Mike Wallace was content to ride his 1995 Harley Softail into his Golden Years. He was 49, engaged to be married and his airbrushing-sign business paid the bills.
In his spare time, Mike rode in bike runs as president of Disciples of Jesus Biker Outreach, a Christian motorcycle group he founded.
This ex-outlaw biker thought he finally out ran his past, but that ugly past reemerged when his granddaughter Kaycie Bork, 3, was murdered in October, a victim of child abuse.
Troy Semenovich, 26, of North Toledo was recently convicted of that murder and Wallace’s daughter, Mallissa Lusk, 27, pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and endangering children.
The murder changed Mike’s life in two significant ways. First, he and his new wife were entrusted with the care of his daughter’s five surviving children, ages 18 months to 9 years old. Second, the abuse brought back memories of the physical and sexual abuse he suffered as a child and for which he is still trying to come to grips with through counseling.
That abuse led to a turbulent life of drug and alcohol use and domestic violence. He was convicted of domestic violence at age 32. He served a year in prison and completed anger management and domestic violence classes. The drug use, however, escalated and in desperation Mike found himself praying to God for help. One night it came, at age 42. “During that time, I was real heavy into coke and stuff. I just kept pleading to God for help. I was miserable with myself. One day, I had a ‘visitation.’ I went to sleep exhausted, as usual. That morning I woke up and I had slept like I never slept before—a kind of peace that’s unexplainable. I woke up without any desire to do coke or drink and I gave my life over to Christ.”
Soon after that the visitation, Mike founded the Disciples of Jesus motorcycle group and began attending biker events to “reach the lost in the biker community.” It was at one of these events he met members of Bikers Against Child Abuse, a national organization that provides support for victims of child abuse and raises funds for therapy.
When Mike read the back of one of the member’s t-shirts, it brought tears to his eyes and gave him an idea on how to honor the life of his granddaughter.
“They fight for the kids,” Mike said. He could do that too. So, Mike has organized a rally in Toledo to raise funds for the Lucas County Children’s Advocacy Center and the Bikers Against Child Abuse. The event, to be held in Kaycie’s memory, is scheduled for Sunday, June 7. There will be a memorial bike run, live music, a pig roast, a bike/car show and guest speakers.
Big Mike, as the East Toledoan is called by his friends, says the money will be used for the healing and protection of abused children. Mike knows first hand the devastating effects of child abuse and the cycle from which it springs. Children emulate their parents, they do what they see. If they grow up abused, they tend to abuse their children. They don’t know another way, Mike says, but still it’s not a defense “I was abused as a kid and it’s no excuse to go around abusing kids.”
Mike said one of the hardest challenge he’s had with his daughter’s five children from four fathers is teaching them not to hit each other. Mike is confident this can be accomplished through education and counseling. He knows first hand the positive effect counseling has had in his own life.
Mike aims to stop the cycle of abuse in his family. He is fighting for custody of the 18-month-old boy. The other four children have already, or will soon be, in the custodial care of their fathers.
Looking back on his visits to see his grand-children Mike now realizes he saw one of the signs of abuse. There were times he says he couldn’t see the kids when he dropped in unexpectedly. He was told they were grounded to an upstairs bedroom. Now he realizes hiding kids with bruises is one of the telltale signs of abuse.
“If I would have known what to look for, if I would have been more educated...” he says his voice trailing off to silence. But blaming himself is only one emotional challenge he is struggling to overcome. “I love my daughter. And, I’m working on forgiving her, but it’s rough,” he said. He’ll arrive at that point one day, however, just like he forgave those who abused him. He doesn’t need to ask,” What would Jesus do?” He knows.
Stand Against Child Abuse event will take place Sunday, June 7, Noon to 6:00 pm at Travelers, 8950 Dorr, Toledo. For info, e-mail Big Mike at
or call 419-810-7321.