11/21/05 — Riders round up toys on run

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Riders round up toys on run

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on November 21, 2005 1:48 PM

More than 150 bikers braved chilly weather and overcast skies Sunday to make sure local children have gifts under their Christmas trees this year.

The 17th annual Wayne County Motorcycle Riders Toy Run began at Berkeley Mall's parking lot. As the riders lined up in pairs, leading the pack was Santa (also known as Wendell Wood) in his big red sleigh pulled by a motorcycle. Police escorts blocked traffic as the riders paraded downtown around the traffic circle and back past the mall, eventually ending at the Snack and Cue.

There were bikes of all sizes and colors. Children rode with their parents on some of the motorcycles.

Strapped on the backs of many of the motorcycles were games and all kinds of stuffed animals. On a white bike rode two stuffed lions while a stuffed monkey hung onto the back. A big stuffed horse was strapped to the front of another.

Cassy Wood, one of the organizers, said this year's run netted more than 500 toys. They will be given to the Lighthouse of Wayne County and Boys and Girls Club of Wayne County to be distributed to needy children for Christmas.

She said it's a way the motorcyclists can help others during the holidays. In addition to helping the agencies through the years, the event has also helped nearly 400 other families at Christmas.

Mrs. Wood said there were 68 bikers that first year. Last year, there were more than 300. Despite the threat of rain this year, riders came from as far away as Kinston, Jacksonville and New Hampshire.

"Unfortunately there are so many people who need help at Christmas time," Mrs. Wood said. "We're going to keep doing it as long as we can."

This is Tina Woodard's 17th year on the toy run. She makes the trip now because it is a good cause, but she remembers another time when she was a beneficiary herself.

"I was helped by this toy run when I was a single parent," she said.

Now, she is glad she can pay back some of the help she received by offering a hand to a parent who might be struggling now.

"It's great and people like us bring more than one toy," Mrs. Woodard said. "Helping somebody -- that's what Christmas is supposed to be."

Mrs. Woodard's 5-year-old granddaughter rode with her and her husband this year.

Helen Wood has participated in the toy run for years. She said giving some of the toys to the Boys and Girls frees up money the club can put into other programs.

"I come out to the toy run every year to give out drinks and doughnuts," she said. "I do it because I enjoy it."

Frank Morrow has ridden every year since the toy run started. His club is the Ghost Riders of Wayne County.

"We enjoy giving the kids toys," he said. "It's fun, it's a good get-together. It's a chance to show people that we do exist, and that we care. The whole thing's for the kids. It's the satisfaction of doing something good."

Morrow said a lot of motorcyclists ride in more than one toy run every year.

The Wayne County Motorcycle Riders will have a silent auction Dec. 3 at Wanda's on Berkeley Boulevard to raise money for Christmas presents for local needy children.