Port Elizabeth bikers revved up, put their best foot forward and made a “wheelie” big difference yesterday by participating in an event that has been putting smiles on the faces of underprivileged children for the past quarter century.
The 25th annual Port Elizabeth Toy Run saw bikers from all walks of life don their signature leather jackets and boots, as scores gathered at the Hunters Retreat Hotel with stuffed animals in hand.
About 2 500 bikers then made their way to the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium as part of the rally, which is the culmination of a year-long toy collection drive for underprivileged children.
Toy Run chairman Tony Halket said the run had raised R165 000 last year and the target this year was a whopping R250 000 to commemorate the 25th anniversary.
“We have an eight-ton tuck full of toys, but we will only know [today] how much we have raised this year,” he said.
“We had about 1 300 people at the after party and about 2 500 bikers, so we did very well. It’s been absolutely great. I don’t know how to put it in words.”
Halket said this year’s Toy Run would see about 4 000 children receive a gift.
This year’s beneficiaries include Cotsworld Primary School, Dora Nginza Peadiatric Burn Unit, Imfundo Educare, Mercy Sisters, Republiek Primary School and Sinethemba’s Care Centre.
Toy Run committee member Ivan van Schalkwyk, 54, who has been participating since its inception, said seeing the event grow every year had been special.
“We have been very fortunate. People tend to open their hearts when it comes to helping children,” he said.
“The people have accepted us over the years. At first, they would come to see why we’ve gathered, but when they see the work that we do it changes their perception of bikers.
“Our sponsors have continued supporting us even through hard times . . . and it’s been amazing seeing how understanding they are.
“For us it’s all worthwhile when you see a child’s face when they get a toy,” Van Schalkwyk said.
On the future of the Toy Run, he said: “It is here to stay and we just hope there will be people to take over from us one day.”
On Saturday, 350 children who would otherwise not receive a present this coming Christmas, were spoilt with a day of rides, jumping castles and face painting at a party organised especially for them at the Bay Stadium.