About 850 motorcycle riders roared away from American Legion Post No. 133 in Temple on Sunday afternoon in the 27th annual Tri-County Toy Run for Bell, Coryell and Lampasas counties.
The bikers followed a 54-mile route to 218 Café in Lampasas, as did a semitrailer filled with 50 boxes of toys and 254 bicycles, John Potts, post commander, said. These gifts and money in the form of gift cards would be handed over to 21 charities. Jerry Caballero, post sergeant-of-arms and past president of the toy run, said the charities distribute the gifts to more than 9,000 children.
“‘We work all year in planning this,” Caballero said. “Every year it’s the first Sunday in December.”
Potts said the post starts collecting toys in January and holds a monthly fundraiser. The post has been a part of the run for 25 years, he said.
“The thing gets bigger every year,” he said. “We had this place full of bicycles and toys. We’ll need another room or something.”
Some of the riders would pull out of the run and join another toy run in Austin, Caballero said. Others came to Temple from toy runs in Waco or other cities. One group of riders came from San Angelo, he said.
Caballero introduced Bruce Raymond of Killeen, chairman of the toy run, who was dressed as Santa Claus. Raymond said it was his 19th year in the run and that he would be riding his Victory Cross Country motorcycle. About 100 volunteers helped with many different responsibilities, he said.
“This is not restricted to bikers,” Raymond said, just before the kickstands went down. “We’re still getting toys.”
Tank, the secretary of Chrome Cruzers of Killeen, said his motorcycle club has made the toy run for about seven years. He rides a Road Glide Harley-Davidson.
“We’re proud to represent our community and help our community as much as we can, and this is one way we can give back,” he said. “We’re glad to be part of it.”
On the toy run, the bikers usually ride in a staggered formation, he said. Within city limits they ride 20-30 mph and about 55 mph on the highway, he said. Police work the intersections and “let us roll through,” he said. There’s an open lane for cars to pass, but they don’t usually do that, he said.
Hunni Bee, vice president of the Killeen chapter of the Queens of Sheba motorcycle club, and 1st Lady, the club’s sergeant-of-arms, said they’ve been on the toy run committee for nine years. Hunni Bee rides a Harley-Davidson Street Glide, 1st Lady a Kawasaki Vulcan.
“We sell the T-shirts and all the proceeds go to the kids,” Hunni Bee said.
1st Lady said they have a list of the charities and what they need.
“I’m the community service guru,” she said. “I love this kind of thing.”
“It’s a little cold, but it’s for a good cause,” Hunni Bee said.
The Queens of Sheba have traveled as far west as California and as far east as Washington, D.C., she said.