11/07/10 — Motorcycle toy runs start holiday charitable efforts

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Motorcycle toy runs start holiday charitable efforts

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on November 7, 2010 1:50 AM

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"Santa" rides his motorcycle on Ash Street with the more than 400 bikers who took part in Shelton's Harley-Davidson Toy Run Saturday. The toy run went from Smithfield to Shelton's Harley-Davidson in Goldsboro.

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Sharon Brown arrives at Thunder Swamp Pentecostal Holiness Church after participating in the Ghost Riders Toy Drive benefiting needy and orphaned children.

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More than 400 bikers took part in Shelton's Harley-Davidson Toy Run. The toy run went from Smithfield to Shelton's Harley-Davidson in Goldsboro and benefits children being treated at the Shriners Children's Hospitals.

Santa Claus didn't have eight tiny reindeer with him when he pulled into Shelton's Harley-Davidson Saturday afternoon, but he did have more than 400 bikers backing him up with boxes of toys.

Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, and an entire fleet of leather-clad "Santa's helpers" arrived shortly after noon to drop off their donated toys, which will go to children undergoing treatment at the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Ohio and South Carolina.

The charity motorcycle ride collected a trailer full of toys and gave local riders a chance to spend some time hanging out with their friends on a sunny fall day.

Seasonably cool temperatures made for a cold ride, but the event saw a good-sized turnout of about 420-450 bikers, owner Shelton Davis said.

Davis started working nearly two decades ago with the Harley Owner's Group riders to collect toys for needy children, and still works with the Sudan Shriners organization - of which he is a member - to see that the toys go straight to the kids who needed them.

Several riders brought their donations with them on the ride from Smithfield to Goldsboro, tying plush stuffed teddy bears and soft infant toys to the back of their motorcycle seat before dropping them off at Shelton's Harley-Davidson.

The reason they do it?

"Bikers have big hearts," Davis said.

The business also sold barbecue plates to collect money, and even Davis himself donned a pair of gloves to dish up barbecue, beans and coleslaw to help warm the bikers up after their ride. The funds raised will go to help other programs, including the American Cancer Society (Relay for Life), the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Shop with a Cop - which may be "Shop with a Biker" this year, Davis said.

Bob Tooley and John A. Hall of the Sudan Mini-Riggers waited with a number of other organization members, ready to collect the toys and pack them for shipping. The items will go to children who are facing orthopedic surgeries, treatments for burns and other necessary care, provided for free by the Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Wayne County and Johnson County law enforcement provided an escort for the riders on their way to the final stop, where the donors had the chance to participate in a 50/50 drawing and door prize giveaways.

Later in the afternoon, about two dozen bikers from the Wayne County chapter of the Ghost Riders joined forces for their own toy run from Goldsboro to Thunder Swamp Pentecostal Holiness Church, just outside of Mount Olive.

It's traditional for the church's pastor to take a ride with the bikers, Ghost Riders chapter president Frank Morrow joked with incoming pastor and returning Mount Olive native Vance Harrell.

"Do you want to ride on that one?" he asked, pointing out a vintage 1940s motorcycle painted with orange and yellow flames.

The reason the group turns out every year, on the same day as the church's annual cooking sale, is simple, Morrow said.

"It's for the kids," he said.

The church has worked with the Ghost Riders for the past several years, combining the two charity efforts - the plate sale and the toy ride - to draw an even bigger response to both events. This year, the church prepared to sell about 600 plates, Harrell said.

The toys collected at the Ghost Riders toy run will go to the home for orphaned and needy children in Falcon, N.C., a charity also supported by the Pentecostal Holiness church.