Tough bikers show their softer side

Yoliswa Sobuwa

THE roar of more than 2000 “mean machines” broke the Sunday quiet when Port Elizabeth’s bikers set off on a mass ride in aid of underprivileged children yesterday.

The annual Toy Run, which also took place at other venues around the country including Cape Town and Johannesburg, started at the Pick n Pay Hypermarket off the William Moffet Expressway at 10am and ended at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Prince Alfred Road, North End.

Thousands of people gathered along the 10km route to cheer on the not-so-mean bikers, most of whom toted soft and cuddly toys destined for the children.

Many of the bikers brought their young children along for the ride, with some tying their youngsters’ little plastic bikes to their machines.

The bikers, who came from all corners of the city, also represented a large number of clubs.

The Aurora Care Centre, Lelethu Baby Shelter, Sakhisizwe Creche and Christelike Maatskaplike Raad are the beneficiaries of this year’s event.

Organiser Cathy Schwarz said the amount of money raised had not yet been tallied, but the target was R200000.

The Toy Run raised R165000 last year.

“This is the biggest turnout yet,” Schwarz said.

“All 2000 tickets were sold.”

The event, in its 22nd year, raises funds for organisations which support children. The money raised will be handed to the beneficiaries in February. Lelethu Baby Shelter house mother Joan le Grange said they were grateful for the Toy Run. “At the moment, we have eight babies aged between two days and two years.

“The money will provide blankets, food, clothes, formula and disposable nappies, among other things.”

On Saturday, the organising committee and motorcycle clubs hosted a party for 300 children at the stadium.

“We arrange for people to sponsor every child with R150. The money is spent on gifts for them.

“The joy on the children’s faces makes all the hard work of fundraising extremely heart-warming,” Schwarz said.

Desmond Fontaine, 52, of the Midnight Motorcycle Club which started the event 22 years ago, said he was impressed with how the event had grown over the years.

“It is huge to organise an event like this, but it is going from strength to strength.

“I am happy that over the years it has attracted a lot of sponsorship and huge crowds,” he said.

Wild Horse MCC president Andre Potgieter said it felt good to help less fortunate children. “The weather was in our favour this year. The raffle sales also went well.”

Algoa FM presenter Charlton Tobias also took part in the mass ride with one of the committee members. “I am doing this for the second year. When it comes to helping our children, one cannot say no …

“I am doing it again next year – hopefully, I will have my own bike then,” Tobias said. The winner of the main raffle prize – a Honda 125E from Auto Motorcycles worth R15000 – was L Coetzee.

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