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DEAN FINDS JOY IN MOTORCYCLES, GRANDKIDS, AND CHRIST
Dean laughs when he talks about his somewhat disjointed upbringing. “I joke about it,” he said. “My mom used to take me to church, but then I was partially raised by a motorcycle club too. I don’t want to talk badly about it though, I still love motorcycles, and I ride with my grandkids now. I had a lot of both worlds.”
Dean started riding when he was young and was a member of the Checkers Motorcycle Club. “I still am, and so are my grandkids,” he said. “There wasn’t a lot to do in the High Desert, but I did that, played baseball, went swimming at the local pool.”
After high school, Dean worked construction at times and in motorcycle shops. He also continued racing. “That’s when the partying started,” he said. “I’d drink on the nights of races and then it just kind of continued on. My drinking wasn’t that bad early on, but the older I got, the worse it got, until I was 50 or so, and then it was out of control.”
Dean didn’t have a problem getting a job, but staying at one for long was difficult. “I was a pretty functioning alcoholic,” he said. “I’d get a job, but I didn’t care if I kept it, whether I got fired or quit—I didn’t care which one it was. Then I got a DUI and I decided I had enough.”
Dean didn’t show up to court intentionally, hoping to be arrested and go to jail. “My plan was to find God in jail,” he said. “It was a terrible plan. I went to turn myself in a couple weeks later, and they didn’t even have a warrant for me.”
Dean made some calls and found the Mission. He entered the program in 2008. “I was very sincere,” he said. “I wanted to make it. I knew right away I was in a better place.
“I can remember someone saying in a class that (some of us) weren’t going to make it through the program. That scared me. I just thought, ‘Well, I am. I am going to make it. I’m not going to drink anymore. I need Jesus.’ I had my moments of course, but I stayed pretty strong.”
More than a decade later, Dean has nothing but positive things to say about his time at the Mission. “It was good for me,” he said. “Obviously I got sober. I learned about Jesus. I learned about addiction, about myself, about other people. I got into a leadership position early on, and that helped me stay focused by focusing on other people.”
Dean stuck around—in the program and the transitional living house—for four years. He helped out in the office and mentored some of the younger guys. “I went to church when I was a little kid,” he said. “I was always a believer, but not much of a follower. When I needed to quit drinking, I couldn’t do it on my own. I tried to multiple times. I turned to God and it worked. I denied him for many years, but when I really needed help, I called on him and he helped me.
“That’s why I went there,” Dean added. “I meant to find God, and I did.”
Dean moved to Arizona for several years where he worked at a motorcycle shop and found a great pastor at Great Kingdom Church. “Pastor Bob Peet is a former motorcycle racer and a standup comedian,” Dean said. “He’s turned himself around from his former self— that’s probably why we get along so well. We are very good friends.”
Dean still visits several times a year, but has moved back to California to be closer to his son, now 33, and his family. “My son’s growing family convinced me to come back,” he said. “I have four grandsons and a little granddaughter. I’m a service advisor at a motorcycle shop—I love my job. Life has gotten so much better. I feel so blessed.
“God restores things,” said Dean, now 62. “God restored my life. He restored my relationships with my friends, my family. I’ve not had a drop of alcohol on my tongue since then—no relapses.”
Even a sip would be more than he’d like, Dean said. “I was at a memorial service for one of my motorcycle buddies, and a bottle of Champagne was passed around. I took a sip and then went behind a tree and spit it out. I knew I didn’t want any of that in me ever again.”
Dean still enjoys riding his motorcycles, both of which are inscribed with meaningful numbers. One of them is labeled with his racing number, 413, which is an homage to Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” His other has “Romans 8:31” painted on it, which reads: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”
“I use that for a conversation starter,” Dean said. “People say, ‘What’s that?’ And I say, ‘I’m glad you asked.’ They usually know it’s a Bible verse, but it’s so I can share it with them. It’s also a reminder to myself of who I am and the reason those numbers are on my bikes.”