Sure, it’s cold. Sometimes it’s even wet and cold. But that won’t dissuade the more than 600 bundled-up motorcycle riders who will show up for what has become one of Medford’s largest fund-raising events of the Christmas season, the 38th Annual Southern Oregon Toy Run, on Saturday, Dec 1.
It’s a party and everyone is invited, not just motorcycle riders, says organizer Mark Daley, owner of Thunderstruck Custom Bikes in Medford.
“Just bring a new, unwrapped toy or cash donation, and join us at the Eagle’s Lodge for lunch and dancing. We’ll have some great raffle prizes, a 50/50 drawing, event T-shirts and live music by the rock and country band, Perry Road.”
The event starts at 10:00 a.m. with a social hour at Touvelle Lodge, 9367 Table Rock Road, Central Point. Free donuts and coffee will be served. At noon, riders will travel down Table Rock Road to Eagle’s Lodge No. 2093, 2000 Table Rock Road, Medford. Any street-legal motorcycle is welcome.
“It’s an impressive sight to hear and see hundreds of bikes lined up, all decorated and loaded with stuffed animals, toys and games,” Daley says. “It still gives me a thrill and I’ve been doing this for over 30 years now.”
Daley encourages spectators.
“We always love it when people stand along the route and cheer us on,” he says. “You can even be a part of the parade heading to the Eagles, but we do ask that cars fall in behind the riders because it’s dangerous to try to mix cars in with the bikes.”
Last year’s Toy Run was a huge success, Daley says.
“We had an entire room full of toys at the Eagles Lodge, and we raised over $14,000 in cash,” he says.
Thanks also, he says, to many non-riders and local businesses who helped out with generous donations of toys and money.
With all of the Toy Run’s success, the need grows every year, Daley says.
“We do pretty well for the younger kids, but this year we hope to get more gifts for the kids who are a little older, things like skateboards, maybe art or drawing supplies or crafting kits,” he says.
The sorting, bagging and distribution of toys is shared by volunteers from the Eagle’s organization and kids from the Boys and Girls Clubs.
“It’s a huge job, so we appreciate all the hard work that goes into organizing so much stuff. Because of them, we are able to help many families and a whole list of local organizations,” he says.
Daley, a nationally recognized designer and builder of custom motorcycles, has used his notoriety and connections to organize, sponsor and support many charitable causes around Southern Oregon.
“Bikers are some of the most generous people when it comes to raising money for good causes,” he says. “We do a lot for local kids, but it’s a cause that seems to get bigger every year so I appreciate the generosity of individuals and businesses in our community who donate time and money to makes this event such a success.”
So even if you don’t ride a motorcycle, bring a toy and come to the party, Daley says.
“It’s an easy way to make a difference in some kid’s life. Nothing warms your heart more than knowing somebody who might not be so fortunate will have a little Christmas joy this year.”