Bikers hit the road for annual Toy Run

After nearly three decades helping deserving kids at Christmas, the annual South Okanagan Toy Run is becoming more like a family reunion.

One of the more than 100 particiapnts in this year's annual South Okanagan Toy Run organized by the Okanagan Motorcycle Riders Association heads out on the road under the glare of the mid-morning sun. This was one of the best years in the history of the event with cash and donations going to Society of St. Vincent De Paul to help needy kids and their families at Christmas.

One of the more than 100 particiapnts in this year's annual South Okanagan Toy Run organized by the Okanagan Motorcycle Riders Association heads out on the road under the glare of the mid-morning sun. This was one of the best years in the history of the event with cash and donations going to Society of St. Vincent De Paul to help needy kids and their families at Christmas.

After nearly three decades helping deserving kids at Christmas, the annual South Okanagan Toy Run is becoming more like a family reunion.

This past Sunday’s event put on by the Okanagan Motorcycle Riders Association (OMRA) was no exception.

“The camaraderie this time around was amazing. We had more than a few comments from people saying this was more like a bunch of family members getting together rather than a toy ride,” said OMRA’s Roy Colmer, who has organized the ride for the past eight years. “Sometimes you only see these people once a year, it’s something we all meet at. Also because this has been going for 27 years, so you get to know people really well over that amount of time.”

He admitted being a little worried about the numbers of people participating this time around because it was the same weekend as a similar toy drive in Kelowna.

However, those fears proved to be unfounded at the end of the day.

“I couldn’t have been more pleased with the toy run and people just keep coming out and they bring pocketfuls of cash,” said Colmer.  “We made $1,850 and that’s $200 better than last year. We also got about 225-250 toys which is about the same.”

The organizer also got good response from the Penticton Lions Club, which put on breakfast and lunch at the Rotary Park on Lakeshore Drive.

“I even had a couple of calls from our members saying, you know, that was the nicest one we’ve ever had,” he said. “Everyone was happy and laughing and it just seemed everyone had a good time.”

Proceeds of the ride, which starts in Penticton, with stops in Summerland, Oliver and Okanagan Falls to pick up donations, go to the Penticton Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

Those items are then distributed to the families of children who have little else on Dec. 25.

“The president of St. Vincent and told me they couldn’t do Christmas without the toy run and that’s a good feeling to know we have helped,” said Colmer.

Ted Monck of Keremeos and his riding companion Shirley Rashke of Kelowna were just two of the many out-of-town participants this year.

“It’s for a really good cause and one of the things I enjoy most is getting together with the guys every year,” said Monck, 73, who actually switched from a two wheeler in 2001 after some leg problems. “So I couldn’t tell if my foot was on the ground or not and that wasn’t good with a big Harley and I didn’t want to have it laying on top of me.”

More than anything, he still loves to get out and ride whenever possible in a season that for him extends from April to October.

When asked how long he intends to ride his trike, Monck replied with a laugh: “As long as I have a pulse.”