Bikers gear up for Toy Run 2010

Ray Maota

toy-run-16112010-text A biker with a large teddy bear to be
donated to charity.
(Image: City of Joburg)

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South Africa’s Toy Run is an annual motorcycle charity event that helps collect and distribute donations for underprivileged children – and, by doing so, boosts the reputation of the biking fraternity in the country.

Organisers of the 2010 edition are appealing to participating bikers to donate educational play things to benefit a broader range of age groups and extend the longevity of toys.

This year there will be runs in four provinces. Bikers will set off from various starting points with their donations strapped to their vehicles and converge later at a central point where their precious cargo will be collected and distributed to various charity organisations.

The event has become a nationwide attraction that leaves bystanders in awe as toy-laden motorcycles roar through cities and towns on the way to their depot points.

“Year on year the event shows consistent growth and this year we are expecting an average of 45 000 bikers to participate in the Gauteng leg of Toy Run 2010 alone,” said Graeme Cartwright, Toy Run 2010 organiser.

Legs will also be held in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Limpopo. The event kicks off with the Limpopo run on 20 November, followed by the Gauteng one on 27 and 28 November, and then the Cape Town and Port Elizabeth ones, on 28 November. For more information, visit the Toy Run website.

“The MTN Expo Centre in Nasrec, southern Johannesburg, is graciously donation their venue for Toy Run 2010 to accommodate the mass of people in Gauteng,” added Cartwright.

Giving back to the community

The Toy Run aims to give something back to destitute young South Africans, from babies through to adolescents of 18 years. Once the bikers arrive at the collection points, the toys are immediately sorted for distribution.

The run also aims to improve and enhance the image of bikers in their communities.

Cartwright said: “The biker fraternity is usually generalised as being full of big and scary men dressed in leather on noisy motorbikes. Toy Run effectively shatters the stereotypical perception by highlighting the big hearts behind the facade.”

“They come from all walks of life across South Africa and donate in excess of 90 000 toys in one day. It is no small feat and there is no greater reward than to see the smile of a child holding his or her very own gift – be it a cuddly toy, colouring-in set or tooth brush – for the first time.”

Various volunteers including Rotary and Lions clubs, Round Table and Ladies Circle assist the Toy Run by sorting the toys into appropriate age categories. Think Bike, an organisation that promotes motorbike safety on the roads, also helps out by street marshalling.

“It is quite a sight to behold and an incredibly fulfilling experience to be a part of,” said Cartwright.

Just in time for the festive season

Disadvantaged children in orphanages, shelters, homes and hospitals throughout South Africa had a brighter festive season in 2009 after more than 65 000 motorcyclists participated in the run with toys of all descriptions adorning their bikes.

Cartwright said: “This year we are shifting the focus again to educational toys as it serves a better purpose for the older children and aids their education.

“We are hoping to make the 2010 rendition of Toy Run even bigger with each of the hosting cities making plans to include family-focused events in their line-up of entertainment. It is for a good cause, and we would like to invite as many people as we can to take the journey with us to make a difference in the lives of less fortunate children across South Africa.”

The Cape Town run will have two starting points at Ratanga Junction and Ottery Hypermarket, and end at Maynardville. At the finish there will be a beer garden, food stalls, motorcycle displays, comedian shows, live music and stalls selling bike-related accessories, jewellery and memorabilia.

In Gauteng, the run will be extended to include bicycles and cars as well. On 27 November cyclists and car enthusiasts are encouraged to come to the MTN Expo Centre with their donations, while the traditional mass motorcycle ride will be held on 28 November from various starting points in the province. Again, the final destination will be the MTN Expo Centre.

The starting points will be at: Centurion Lifestyle Centre on the corner of Old Johannesburg road and Lenchen road in Centurion; Steeldale Hypermarket in Linroy Street in Steeldale; Greenstone Shopping Centre on the corner Modderfontein road and Van Riebeeck Avenue in Edenvale; Carnival City on the corner Century and Elsburg road in Brakpan; the Brightwater Commons on Republic Road in Randburg; and,Westgate Shopping Centre on Ondekkers road on the West Rand.

No entry fee will be charged to participate in the events provided each person brings along an educational pack or toy – educational packs are preferred, but toiletries will also be welcomed for the older children.

Some of the beneficiaries of the Gauteng run have been the Aurora, Van Ryn and Benoni Rotary Clubs on the East Rand; the Brooklyn Methodist church and Danville Assistance Project in Pretoria; Immaculate House in Reiger Park; Jan Niemand Park in Pretoria; Primrose Squatter camp in Germiston; an organisation for abused women and children in Windsor, near the Cresta Shopping Centre; the SPCA in Edenvale; and the Jewish Women’s Institute.

History of the Toy Run

The Toy Run was launched in Cape Town and Johannesburg in 1982 by the Italian Motorcycle Owners Club, and has over the years has become the largest biker charity event in South Africa.

Runs, which take place from 19 centres across the four provinces, are hosted by local motorcycle clubs and other organisations, with the assistance of businesses.