Day #33 and 34 (day of and day after): The Toy Run

After a two-year hiatus as a rally, organizers of one of the city’s most unsung events were able to bring back the Toy Run. This was my husband’s ninth Toy Run and my sixth as actual bikers, having spent previous years curbside cheering on the motorcycle community of Wichita. Initiated in 1980 by members of the Kansas Modified Bike Association (KMBA), the first run consisted of 30 bikers and in 2011 almost 3,000 bikes participated.

 As a spectator, I was awed by the number of bikes. Sitting on the curb or on the hood of my car, I waved at the bikers, some wearing Santa hats or neckties of silvery garland, a few donning reindeer antlers, while others wore the colors of their club or the patches of their military service. No matter what they wore, I admired, respected and was moved by their parade of generosity for the Toys for Tots Foundation and the Salvation Army.

When my husband built his bike in 2003, we waited anxiously for November and our first Toy Run; however, I was unable to ride as I attended an honors ceremony at Wichita State, having returned to college. It wasn’t until 2005 that I rode in my first run. It was cloudy, drizzling, and cold, but I wore my Santa hat adorned with my first Toy Run button and I never felt warmer. The sun parted the clouds as we pulled out of Lawrence Dumont Stadium and as we rode down Broadway Street lined with families and supporters, I felt so humbled to be a part of the run. And, I was moved to tears as we passed veterans waving flags, saluting us, some holding signs of thanks.

Other than the two years it was relegated to a rally in the Delano District (we didn’t attend, just donated), we have participated. We purchase two toys, one for a boy and one for a girl, dig through the Christmas tubs for Santa hats and get up early to meet friends and family for breakfast the morning of the run. It is an event I look forward to each year, as it kicks off the season of giving. Sure, it is good time catching up with friends, seeing all the bikes, making new friends from strangers, and there is a definite rush when all of those bikes start their engines. But, it is truly a soul-filling event. I’m not sure how to, so I won’t even attempt to explain. All I can advise is if you can ride in the Toy Run, do so. And if you can’t ride, make sure you witness and support this wonderful cavalcade through town. To see a giant Hello Kitty strapped to a chopper, or a skateboard wedged between ape-hangers will put a Christmas smile on your face. You can feel the spirit move through you with the rumbling passing of those hundreds of bikes.

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