This toy run, to me, is one of the most important in this area. Maybe because we were lucky to have healthy children and grandchildren, I can’t imagine how it must be to have a child in the hospital at Christmas. My love and prayers go to all those in Brenner at Christmas, so it is with great pleasure that together, we can bring Christmas cheer to them.
The run begins with great fanfare at Harley-Davidson of Greensboro. Mark Wheelihan and his staff work on this project for several months, gathering sponsors, coordinating with law enforcement escorts, planning and preparing event t-shirts, and gathering toys. It all comes together on the second Saturday of December.
We were blessed with dry conditions as the motorcycles began lining up on Farragut Street in front of the dealership. It was sunny, but quite chilly, as folks got registered, delivered toys to the waiting bins, and purchased run t-shirts (proceeds from these sales was going into the pot for Brenner).
As soon as Santa arrived on his Harley with sidecar full of reindeer to lead the motorcycles, riders began suiting up, and the truck with the loaded toy trailer started down the street toward I-40. To say the run was police escorted was putting it mildly. There were 25 motor officers involved from Guilford County, Greensboro PD, Winston-Salem PD, Kernersville PD, Davidson County Sheriff’s Department, and High Point PD that shut down I-40 as we rode through. They led the line of motorcycles, blocked the oncoming ramps, and police cars followed the line to prevent cars from approaching the line of motorcycles or cutting through it. They did a fabulous job and everyone riding must have felt very safe and protected as I did. I have been on this run in the past when cars would cut through the line of motorcycles to speed up or to get off the road, and would cause confusion and near accidents. It was much safer this way, with the 215+ motorcycles that ventured out for this chilly run.
Upon arrival at Brenner Children’s Hospital, everyone meandered inside and were treated to light refreshments. Then Mark and Tara Wheelihan gathered the riders together and began the presentation by thanking those companies and individuals who have been supporters for many years and included thanks to Wes, Sharee, and Kelsey, members of his dealership crew who helped every year. He then presented an envelope containing the cash donations that had been gathered totaling $20,000 and stated that there was at least the same value of toys that were in the trailer. Beth Smith, Child Life Coordinator at Brenner Children’s Hospital, graciously thanked everyone and told us that their Christmas depends on the toy run. She said the toys and cash would be used all through the year for children’s birthdays as well as for Christmas.
This year’s sponsor list included Guilford County Sheriff’s Office, Painted Plate Catering, ATI Decorative Laminates, I.M. Copeland, Jarrett Sheet Metal, Triad H.O.G. Club, Triad Bad Lasses, Greensboro Dermatologist Associates, P.A., Chase Logeman, The Carolinas’ Full Throttle Magazine, Signature Property Group, Yates Construction, DBrand Designs (designed the logo), JJ Watering Hole, I Print Tees, Envy Motorclub, Bobby’s Golf Cart, and Wake Forest Baptist Health: Brenner Children’s Hospital. Those that contributed money were asked to make checks out to Brenner Children’s Hospital so there is no question as to who gets the money.
Then we were all asked to help unload the toys and take them to be separated into age groups to be ready for Santa to distribute. It truly blessed my heart to hear that last year a mom was spending Christmas at Brenner with her child and she was notified that Santa would be coming Christmas morning. She thought, maybe a card or something, but was so surprised when she awoke to find a large bag of toys on Christmas morning for her child. She then spent the year gathering toys to participate in this year’s toy run and paid it forward. How sweet is that?
So, let’s do it again in 2017. See you there on the second Saturday in December.