The tenth annual Steelhorse Strangers MC Toy Run hosted more than 400 motorcycles and raised $36,000 for Santa’s Helpers of Person County Sunday.
The yearly motorcycle ride and toy drive was the founding event of the Steelhorse Strangers, President Jarrett Shotwell said.
“The club was founded for the kids of Person County,” Shotwell said. “As a matter of fact, it was started to do this event. That’s who we ride for,” Shotwell said. “Our motto is KIDS - and it stands for ‘Kids Indeed Deserve Support.’”
Shotwell said the event began with 60 bikes the first year and has grown each year to 348 last year. The donations have also grown from around a $600 donation to $23,000 and a storage pod of toys last year.
Shotwell said the donations will help not only the children, but also the riders who donated.
“We believe that no children should be left behind on Christmas,” he said. “They should have the love in their heart that comes from Christmas. And doing something like this with all these people – it puts a joy in their heart Christmas morning when they wake up and think about all these children that are smiling because they helped them. It does something for everybody’s heart.”
The ride hosted a variety of riders from as far away as Maryland, South Carolina and Virginia.
Greg Perrotti said this was his first Toy Run.
“It should be a good one,” he said. “We all come out for the kids and donate so that every kid will have presents under the tree.”
Vanessa Hatcher has attended every Toy Run.
“My son, Allen ‘Fat Boy’ Long, was a part of this before he passed away in 2012,” she said. “The Steelhorse Strangers started out with a very small group doing toy runs for the kids in Person County and it has expanded tremendously.”
Shotwell said he expected to hit 400 bikes and 600 people at the event.
Steelhorse Strangers Vice President Cherie Hatley said the event allows Santa’s Helpers to continue to provide gifts to children age 12 and under like they normally do, but also to provide shopping sprees for older kids who need clothes, shoes and other necessities.
Hatley estimated the event would raise $35,000.
Both predictions would prove to be spot on, if not a little conservative.
The event raised $36,000 and a storage pod full of toys for Santa’s Helpers of Person County and hosted a ride of 402 bikes and 673 riders.
The law enforcement-escorted ride then left for a trip around the county before returning to Homestead Restaurant for a meal provided to donating riders.