Hundreds of bikers will be riding down Rocky Mount streets under police escort on Saturday as part of the 25th annual Rocky Mount Harley-Davidson H.O.G. Chapter holiday charity toy run.
Bikers are paying $10 or donating a new unwrapped gift to participate in the event, which generates funds to buy toys for needy children. The fundraiser also includes the raffling off of a motorcycle and other prizes.
“All bikes are welcome (in the ride). You don’t have to be a Harley rider,” said Jimmy Lyles, the Harley dealership’s general manager. “It’s all about the kids in Edgecombe and Nash counties.”
Biker registration is scheduled from 9 until 11:45 a.m.
The ride starts at noon.
“We’ll have the blessing of bikes at noon, then we’ll do the parade,” Lyles said. “Santa Claus is going to be here. When they come back, we’ll have a meal and music.”
People need not participate in the ride to contribute to the cause or enjoy the event, Lyles said.
They still can pay the $10 fee and receive a barbecue lunch catered by Gardner’s. Also, the group Haywire will perform live music in the Harley parking lot.
First prize in the main raffle is a V-Rod Muscle motorcycle valued at $17,000. Second prize is $500 and third prize is a ladies pink leather jacket. A 50/50 raffle also is planned.
Last year’s event generated $8,000 to buy toys for needy children identified by the Salvation Army.
In early December, the H.O.G. Rocky Mount Chapter motorcycle riders make a trip to Walmart to buy toys from the bike run proceeds. They then turn over the toys to the Salvation Army for distribution.
“(The bikers) get the biggest pleasure out of going to Walmart,” Lyles said. “You see guys in leather jackets riding bikes in Walmart.”
Capt. Mark Hunter, who manages the local Salvation Army branch, said the toy run is very important to helping needy families during the holiday season.
The Salvation Army counts on money raised in its Red Kettles and Angel Trees to help those families, he said.
“The toy run (proceeds) free up other monetary resources to be able to be used in other programs to support emergency-assistance programs, character-building programs and other programs,” he said.
Susie Powell, who lives of Social Security disability, said the Salvation Army’s holiday assistance last year helped brighten her family’s Christmas. She said it’s difficult making ends meet during the holidays, particularly with high electric bills.
She said the Salvation Army brought her children sneakers, clothes and board games last Christmas
She expressed gratitude for those participating in the toy run.
“It is a godsend, a blessing,” she said. “I thank God for them.”