Riding together: Wise County Toy Run brings Christmas to needy

By Austin Jackson | Published Wednesday, December 5, 2018
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Riding with purpose

RIDING WITH PURPOSE – James and Sarah Woods of Chico prepare for the 19th Annual Wise County Toy Run. Six months after Woods’ father passed away, he drove his father’s bike during the Toy Run to honor his father who made the Toy Run a tradition in his family. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

In a sea of leather and chrome, James Woods mounted his father’s bike and turned the ignition, adding the hog’s voice to the symphony of 1,102 bikes coming to life at the 19th Annual Wise County Toy Run.

It was a powerful moment for the Chico resident, as he joined the horde of bikers.

For years, Woods grew up going to the event that benefits Wise County youth with his father.

Woods first started riding when he was 5, following in his dad’s footsteps with motocross. It was a bond they shared for decades as Woods still races across the country. Six months ago Woods’ father died.

At the Toy Run Sunday, he rode in his father’s stead, riding his dad’s bike down the familiar 12-mile route from Decatur’s McCarroll Middle School to Harwood Park in Bridgeport to deliver his contribution to the massive pile of toys.

“My dad used to do it on this bike for years,” Woods said. “He passed away six months ago so I took over. We’re just picking up were he left off. Being on this bike right now means more to me than most people would understand.”

Woods, his wife and more than a 1,000 others dropped off their toys. Event organizer Jeff Honeycutt estimated the value of the toys was more than $25,000. Each rider was required to bring a toy valued at more than $10. But many exceeded the minimum, with some donating bicycles.

“Making the kids smile makes it worth every dollar,” James’ wife Sarah Woods added.

Christmas came

CHRISTMAS CAME – Dalton Davis helps arrange the presents under the tree at the Harwood Park Pavilion in Bridgeport Sunday at the 19th annual Wise County Toy Run. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

The event began with registration at 10 a.m. behind the Decatur Public Library in Decatur. Within a matter of minutes the parking lots filled up into overflow parking as live music played over the speakers.

At 12:30, riders began their ride, ending in Bridgeport, where they deposited their toys like leather-clad Santas on high-horsepower sleighs.

The event brought together riders from across the motorcycle spectrum together. Differing patches, hogs and crotch rockets, members and prospects, people dressed as Santa and the Grinch rode for the same cause – kids.

Since 1999, riders from across Texas and beyond have ridden together for the event with toys in tow.

This year, Honeycutt said he was touched by the continued generosity and spirit of the community.

“I think about all of the faces who truly make the Wise County Toy Run great,” Honeycutt said. “It is not one, it is a family, a group who give and give all year long of their time, their money, their best efforts and their sacrifice away from their own families to spread love and the Christmas spirit to kids and families in a world that today seems to be so dark.”

Santa on different sleighs 02

Around 2,000 bikers on 1,102 hogs drove in force during the 19th Annual Wise County Toy Run Sunday behind a police escort. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Honeycutt credited the sponsors and countless volunteers and riders who helped organize and orchestrate the successful run. Specifically, the Unified Body of Christ Church in Paradise which worked year-round on the event and, instead of normal Sunday services, served to ensure the event took off, as well as the Wino’s crew and the Guardians of the Children and Honor Bound Motorcycle Ministries.

Law enforcement helped ensure it was a safe run with a police escort that brought the riders 12 miles from Decatur to the Harwood Park Pavilion in Bridgeport, as spectators watched the 1,102 bikes ride in unison.

It was all for the kids. Riders ensured each will have presents under the tree this year. Some will receive bicycles as one donor gave over $1,000-worth of bicycles at the event.

“There are no words that can describe how I feel and what is in my heart but love and gratitude and thankfulness for each and every one of you,” Honeycutt added. “I am grateful beyond words. Each of you bring light and hope to a world riddled in darkness. You bring the spirit of Christmas to our community.”

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SANTAS ON DIFFERENT SLEIGHS – Dave Kallaway rides his festively decorated hog during the 19th annual Wise County Toy Run from Decatur to Bridgeport Sunday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

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