In Lantana, There are Angels Among Us

In Lantana, There are Angels Among Us

by Susan Neuhalfen

Once in a while you meet people and you can’t help but think to yourself, is this person Superman? How does he balance work, family and all that he does in the community?

Kevin Howell is that guy.

He’s your average suburbanite who works hard, supports his family, takes care of his home and rides his motorcycle…with one exception: when it comes to helping kids, he has a heart as big as Texas.

“You’ll have to excuse me,” he said during his phone interview. “You get me talking about the kids and I just can’t stop.”

Kevin’s latest project is 444 Angel. He is of the belief that there is someone in our past, an angel, who is watching over us. Together with that angel, and a little help from his friends, Kevin does all he can to help kids in need.

“I’m a 5th generation Fort Worth Texan,” Kevin expressed proudly. “My grandmother, Velma Chapman, has always been my angel. I believe everyone has guardian angels.”

It all started on a sunny afternoon while Kevin was riding his bike. He saw a Southlake police officer pulling people over for tickets. He didn’t know what came over him, but he felt compelled to pull over and talk to the officer. The officer was having a bad day. He had found out that his partner was diagnosed with brain cancer and he didn’t know how his wife and 9 year-old son would survive. Kevin went home, wrote him a check out of his own pocket and told him he wanted to plan a fundraiser. They put together a motorcycle ride and other folks got involved in fundraising events that were so successful, they paid off the family’s bills and even established a college fund for the 9 year-old boy.

This was the beginning of Kevin’s passion for gifting kids in need that launched his first non-profit charity. At one event, over 700 bikes and helmets were gifted to the needy kids at the Carey Francis Thomas School in North Richland Hills.

Kevin became a member of the board at the Children’s Advocacy Center in Denton County (CACDC) after working with their Director, Dan Leal, and supporting their kids for the previous nine years. Because he could no longer directly help the children while serving on the board, he resigned his position to start 444 Angel.

CACDC helps kids who have been sexually abused, not only to get them to safety but to bring their predator to justice. Kevin and 444 Angel help these children graduating from counseling to pursue positive outlets such as sports club participation, music lessons, and other activities, so that the children may achieve their dreams and goals.  444 Angel contacts the guardians and finds out what help, if any, is needed, financially or otherwise. They help not only the child in counseling, but his or her siblings as well.

Another way 444 Angel helps the CACDC kids is by working with a group called BACA (Bikers Against Child Abuse). BACA is a world-wide organization that exists to give abused children their power and self-esteem back. With the permission of an abused child’s parent or guardian, Kevin and his BACA brothers and sisters, who are all motorcycle riders, come to the child’s house to ask the child to accept BACA into his or her family. They give him or her a “cut” (the vest they wear), a blanket and a teddy bear full of love and hugs. 2 BACA brothers or sisters are then assigned to go to every court hearing to support the child.

Kevin feels blessed to have the help of so many volunteers including some right here in
the neighborhood.

“I’m so lucky to have found two angels right here in Lantana,” said Kevin. “Heather Shimala and Pamela Fenner are pulling the troops together, working to help these kids. They know a lot of people in the community and they feel as passionately about the cause as I do.”

In the short time that 444 Angel has been in existence, they have donated money to not only the CACDC but to several charity organizations including the Burn Center at LSU.

In conjunction with Brother’s Keepers, a motorcycle riding group made up of hundreds of north Texas firefighters, 444 Angel provides gifts for the campers at ‘Camp I’m Still Me”, a camp for burn victims. They’ve donated sports equipment for the camp as well.

The 444 Angel inaugural event was in partnership with the Lifting Lives Foundation and the Academy of Country Music. They put together an ACM 50th Anniversary event ride featuring country music stars Dirks Bentley, Lee Brice, Montgomery Gentry and Kelsea Ballerini.  

“With this inaugural event 444 Angel was able to bless the CACDC, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children and BACA with donations,” said Kevin. “100% of 444 Angel donations go directly
to the kids.”

So with everything he sees and the tireless effort he puts in, what keeps him going?

“When you gift hurting children they know someone loves them, and it will inspire them to follow their dreams,” said Kevin. “We may think because we live in a beautiful community like Lantana abuse doesn’t happen, but abuse can happen in any community.”

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