Thanks to the efforts of no less than thousands of bikers Sunday afternoon, at least that many kids will have a new toy this holiday season.
The 40th annual ABATE of Tulsa Toy Run drew a massive turnout of riders bearing gifts for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program. Lines of parked bikes stretched in all directions from Guthrie Green while Marines loaded up two semi-tractor trailers full of toys.
The Tulsa chapter of A Brotherhood Aiming Toward Education welcomed motorcycle riders from surrounding states for the event. James Clark, ABATE of Tulsa’s events coordinator, said the second Saturday of December has become synonymous as toy run day in the community.
It’s why Clark said though Sunday had beautiful riding weather, it’s not the only reason so many made the ride with an admittedly lofty goal of delivering 20,000 toys.
“The biker community has never failed to step up to the plate,” Clark said. “You give them a good cause, they’re on it. It never fails when you get the message out that this is what we’re going to do.”
The toy run’s 40th edition had a new route thanks to construction on Cherry Street. Riders took the long way to Guthrie Green from Expo Square, taking a Tulsa Police Department escort down 21st Street to Riverside Drive.
The parade of bikes and loud pipes circled around downtown before peeling off into the landing area at Guthrie Green just after 2:15 p.m. to hand over the toys. The huge crowd would take nearly an hour to get parked and settled in the area.
For those returning to the toy run, like Tom Johnson of Sapulpa, the crowd of bikers reflects what the community is all about. Johnson said it doesn’t matter where they’ve come from or how shiny the chrome wheels are, bikers come together for those in need.
“Bikers are some of the most charitable people in the world,” Johnson said. “We’ll give our hearts away to somebody if they’re deserving of it and need it.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s a Harley or a Honda ... as long as it’s got two wheels and wind in your face, that’s all we care about.”
Others like Aaron and Sammy Bratcher made the run for the first time Sunday. The Bratchers came from Grove to drop off a pair of toys on a Yamaha V Star.
Aaron said it’s a privilege to ride and be able to help out those less fortunate.
“It’s pretty amazing, it’s the only way to describe it,” Bratcher said. “It feels nice to be blessed enough to be able to do it. There’s other kids out there that are less fortunate than our kids, so we just want to pass on the good fortune.”