MIDLOTHIAN — Hundreds of bikers pulled into downtown Midlothian to participate in the Gryphons Motorcycle Club Ellis County Toy Run to Ennis's Sokol Hall on Sunday.
This year, about 400 riders participated in the event and a little less than $12,000 was raised for the senior center, said Gryphons president Eddie Herbert.
Each biker brought a toy to donate to at least 75 needy Ellis County children and $5 to support the Golden Circle Activity Center in Ennis. After the ride was over, leftover toys were delivered throughout the county.
Gryphons Motorcycle Club member Larry Myers, also known as Blowout, said he has been participating in the Toy Run every year he could since 1993.
“Obviously, it’s the giving, but also the camaraderie,” Myers said. “Every year, it is always great watching the kids and their reactions.”
Many people forget the ride and the auction held at Sokol Hall also supports seniors, he said.
“One year, the senior citizen center was able to purchase a van they needed to pick people up and drop them off,” Myers said.
In addition to helping the children, Kittie Privette said she came to the Toy Run and pre-ride rally on 8th Street in Midlothian to meet up with friends from other cities and clubs.
“You only see them once a year at the Toy Run,” she said.
Andy Havner is another longtime Toy Run participant who said he has been driving down from Fort Worth for the Toy Run for 30 years. He usually participates in several biker donation rides each year, but makes sure to come back to Ellis County each year.
“This is my favorite by far. What's heartwarming to me is when you walk into Sokol Hall and the kids are there and they say 'Hi, Mr. Biker,' and you can actually see your toys being given away,” he said, adding other events only collect the toys to be handed out by other agencies at a later date.
Havner said he was disappointed the turnout wasn't larger this year because of the overcast skies and morning rain.
“They're a bunch of sissies. Those kids don't care about rain, they want Christmas,” he said.
The Midlothian, Waxahachie and Ennis police departments aided the riders on their way to Ennis and the Ellis County Sheriff's Office deputies escorted the riders the entire way.
The cross-county escort makes the ride much smoother and safer now than when he first started coming, Havner said.
“When I first started coming here, we would have to stop on the side of the road and wait for police escorts from each city,” he said.
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