Sunday’s Wise County Toy Run was a roaring success.
Holiday spirit was high as 1,200 motorcycles and 1,600 riders drove from Decatur to Bridgeport carrying toys strapped to their bikes for the less fortunate in Wise County.Ed Beckley, spokesman for the event, said turnout was the best it has been in the event’s 13-year history. Prior to this, he estimated the biggest ride included about 800 or 900 people.
Debbie Reed, an event organizer, said $20,000 was collected, plus “two trailer loads of toys.”
“About 80 percent of it was great weather,” he said. “We had a couple from Oxford, N.Y., and a couple from Sturgis, S.D.,” he said. “They were here on vacation and heard about it, so they came out.”He said 50 percent of the riders are from the Fort Worth area.
As riders rolled into town, they were greeted with clear skies and temperatures in the 80s, a marked difference from last year’s cold temps.
Beckley said they had so many riders this year that as the last rider left the McCarroll Middle School parking lot in Decatur, the first rider was pulling into Bridgeport.
Beckley, a Bridgeport resident, said this was his first year to be involved, and “it was rewarding.”
“When we give all these (toys) out, our whole goal is to make sure there’s not a family or kid in Wise County wanting for anything,” he said.
He said money raised through the event has been used to pay families’ electricity bills and buy Christmas dinners.
“When all these people came to this, it was like a lot of love being shown,” Beckley said.
Charli Franks, with Wise County Special Needs Baseball, said the Toy Run provided gifts to 12 of the league’s players Sunday afternoon, and they have adopted a family from the league to help at Christmastime.
“They really liked the noise of the motorcycles,” Franks said of the players who attended Sunday’s event. “They thought it was pretty awesome. And for some of those kids, that may be one of the few gifts they receive this Christmas.”
Franks said she had never seen so many presents.
“Motorcycle riders often get a bad name, but to see as many cycles that were there and to see how many gifts there were, they were very generous,” Franks said. “The bad reputation shouldn’t follow them.”
For more information about the Wise County Toy Run, visit the group’s Facebook page by searching WiseCounty ToyRun at www.facebook.com.