Riding To Give Back

I was reading an article the other day about winterizing your bike, when I realized I’d never actually thought about it before. Living in Orlando, unless there’s a hurricane, I’m riding – so winterizing really isn’t something I actually know how to do.

So rather than winterize, I ride with Teddy Bears strapped to my bike (OK – not really – I usually suggest someone else do that) or toys stuffed into my saddle bag heading for a kids home or AmVets lodge. The best thing about riding and December are the toy runs in Central Florida, and they’ve gotten bigger each year. Ocala HOG alone collected more than 2,000 toys during their event this year.

Given the number of toys runs, it was fitting that today I received an email from a riding friend who recited a great story about a Lake County Florida HOG chapter member known as the Toy Man (Jim Gray). He started a toy run to help out some local Lake county kids, and over time, the number of toys collected filled an entire warehouse. It took a committee of 10 people to manage it every year, and more than 200 children received toys. Jim was a Vietnam Veteran who worked for the Mount Dora Post Office – just a local guy helping local families during the holiday. Tragically, Jim lost his life several years ago when riding his Harley just before Christmas, but his spirit of giving lives on every time someone gets on a bike and donates their time, money or compassion for a day.

Enjoy the holiday season, and don’t forget to spread a little joy during 2008 by supporting your local benefit rides. Riding is a great way to meet people, but also a great way to make the world a better place.

Ride and remember the journey,

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