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Hardin County’s 16th Toys for Tots Run rebounded strongly Sunday after last year’s rain showers nearly washed out the annual rally.
Motorcycles of every size, make and model crowded into the Staples parking lot in Elizabethtown, glistening in the sun as their owners hauled in boxes and bags of toys for needy children. The riders parked and mingled, swapping stories and gazing at the bikes and hot rods on display.
Event coordinator Vickie Wheeler, dressed in red as Mrs. Claus, was ecstatic about the turnout.
“I guarantee we’ve got 2,000 at least,” Wheeler said of the crowd as she handed out tickets.
“There’s no telling how many we’ve got,” she added. “But it’s going to be a good day.”
After the ride, Wheeler said they had more than 2,200 bikes on hand.
The riders departed from Elizabethtown and rode to Veterans Memorial Park in West Point, where food and drinks were available to cap off the day.
The run is sponsored by Harley-Davidson Louisville in conjunction with the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves and served roughly 1,600 children in Hardin County last year. Similar runs are held in surrounding counties, Wheeler said.
Linda Thompson and Linda Hurley, Glendale residents who are friends and neighbors, said they attend the run as often as they can “to help the kids who need it.”
“Everybody is having a hard time right now,” Thompson said.
Last year’s rainy weather kept the two away, but they said they feel drawn to the cause.
“We want to do what we can to help out,” Thompson said. “We can’t do a lot, but every bit helps.”
Hurley said she was moved by the large turnout and the number of people who care enough to buy toys for children they do not know.
“There’s still good people in the world,” Thompson said in agreement.
Becky and Terry Farmer of Hodgenville have been attending the rally for half a dozen years or more, jumping aboard once they purchased their Harley.
They said the mission Toys for Tots represents is a universal message they respond to.
“We like to help the kids and help them enjoy Christmas,” Becky Farmer said.
Terry Farmer said there always will be a need and Toys for Tots is doing what it can to ensure more children are happy during the holidays.
“There’s always kids who don’t have Christmas, and this is another way to see they have a Christmas,” he said.
The Farmers also expressed satisfaction with the favorable weather.
“This is the prettiest year we’ve had in awhile,” Becky Farmer said.
Cyrus Moorman, a Brandenburg resident, is a member of the Christian Motorcyclists Association and said his chapter attends most runs in its area to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is its primary mission, and support Toys for Tots.
Moorman said the rally’s function is crucial because it shows a child in need the compassion of people within the community they live.
“They’re willing to give their time and money and help a child have Christmas,” Moorman said of the crowded mass of participants.
Wheeler said some bring one toy, which is the fee for admission to the run, while some bring a bike full. Organizers do not set a goal on the number of toys they want to receive but are appreciative for whatever they get, she said. Wheeler said they have yet to turn a child away because of lack of toys.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or firstname.lastname@example.org.