A band of leather-clad “biker elves” roared down the road toting toys for underprivileged children Saturday afternoon on US-56 between Marion and Hillsboro.
Stephan Laun of Abilene, president of the American Legion post in Herington has ridden in the Marion County Toy Run for three years.
“It all goes back to kids with parents that can’t provide come Christmastime,” Laun said. “I’ve been there. I know what it is like. This is my chance to give back to the kids.”
Tom Varvais, a biker from Enterprise, brought a toy and rode too.
“I think we all just want to give back to the community,” Varvais said. “That’s just what we do.”
Laun said he felt it was important that children always have a toy at Christmas regardless of a parent’s financial status.
“Kids grow up with a belief in Santa Claus,” Laun said. “If they hear about all the other kids who get a bunch of presents, they might wonder why Santa didn’t bring them anything.”
He said the Toy Run helps underprivileged children maintain their belief in the giving spirit of Christmas.
Santa also took a break from his holiday preparations to travel in from the North Pole and participate in the Toy Run. He said the weather was perfect for a ride in the back of a pickup truck.
“The elves are working on my sleigh back at the shop,” Santa said. “I am grateful to have all these generous people around. There is just so much need in Marion County that I needed a little help to get all the kids presents.”
One of the event’s organizers, Tom Koslowsky said weather cooperated to help increase participation numbers from last year.
“Last year was so cold, not as many people came out,” he said. “Everyone who participated was supposed to donate one toy, but this year I saw a lot of people carrying three and four toys.”
There were 76 motorcycles and nine classic cars in last year’s event. This year, 131 bikers and 11 classic car drivers participated he said. Marion pilot, Ty Zeiner, also flew his airplane.
“We should end up giving out over $13,000 with the money we raised at the Toy Run, the chili feed, and the auction,” Koslowsky said. “A little money usually trickles in afterward, too.”
He said toys collected and money raised would be divided between four areas within the county.