Special Events: Tale of the Two-Wheeled Santas
On a recent Saturday, I enjoyed the sounds of 200 motorcycles following in a procession with a police escort. They were delivering toys to be given to children in need.
Nineteen years ago, the annual Circle City Toy Run was created. I asked the main family sponsors why they created this event. They said they received services from The Salvation Army years ago and wanted to give back. So, they established a day filled with live bands, a pig roast, silent auction and various activities all designed to generate either dollars or days for children.
The event grew from several motorcycles to several hundred. The participants depart from a gathering place and travel to The Salvation Army headquarters parking lot where they receive free coffee, hot chocolate, little red bells to ring and a prayer. Then it's back to their gathering place.
If you are considering creating a special event, always remember it is usually easier for an outside group to do the work and sponsor the event where you receive the proceeds than for your organization to do all the work. In the Circle City Toy Run, additional volunteers support The Salvation Army on their own as a byproduct of this event. It is truly a family affair started by a mother and carried on by her two sons and daughter. They love doing this event that involves gathering toys and funds used to buy additional toys. Throughout the years, several thousand riders have contributed more than 15,000 toys to help children have a Christmas.
The concept of the Circle City Toy Run event actually generates toys that are distributed to families at another event called Toy Shop. Each year at this event, more than 900 families receive toys that have been gathered through additional events such as Fill the Truck sponsored by Wal-Mart. More than 2,500 children obtain toys, gift cards, food and candy on Christmas morning. It is wonderful that so many volunteers and donors give joyously to help those in need. These families would not have any Christmas without the generosity of others. The motorcycle and corporate sponsors said they give in order to pay it forward.