A steady stream of bikes, which numbered in the hundreds in all, pours out of the McDonalds and Esso parking lot in Sackville during last year’s Tantramar Toys for Tots Motorcycle Run. This year’s event takes place Sept. 7.
SACKVILLE, NB – Motorcyclists from all over the Maritimes and farther afield will gather in Sackville on Saturday, Sept. 7 for the 25th annual Tantramar Toys for Tots Motorcycle Run.
One of the event’s organizers, Mike Purdy said Monday that he is expecting at least 500 participants at the run, but hopes even more will turn out this year.
“If it’s a nice day it would be great to see 1000 or more motorcycles at this year’s run, especially since it’s our 25th anniversary run,” he admitted.
Every year for the past quarter century bikers from parts of New Brunswick, P.E.I and Nova Scotia – and including Cape Breton Island – as well as Quebec and some western provinces, have come out in support of the local Toys for Tots run. And that support has generated more than $230,000, most of which has been distributed to local and regional organizations to assist with Christmas cheer programs. These organizations include Moncton Headstart, Sackville Christmas Cheer, Port Elgin District Voluntary Action Group, Dorchester Volunteer Association and Amherst “Christmas for Kids” Campaign.
Tantramar Toys for Tots has also contributed financially to the Sackville Memorial Hospital, Children’s Wish Foundation, Terry Fox Run, Bob Edgett’s Boxing Club, Amherst Accessible Playground Project, Tree of Life, hot lunch programs in the area, Tantramar Veterans Memorial Civic Centre, playground improvements throughout the region, Sackville Athletics, Rare Breed for Rare Disease, Secret Santa and Ronald McDonald House.
“We’ve also been able to lend a hand over the years to some area families who have had children with very serious illnesses, helping with expenses,” he noted.
Purdy, who organized the first Tantramar Toys for Tots motorcycle run back in 1988, said he got the idea after reading about a toy run in Augusta, Maine that had attracted some 6,000 attendants.
“I thought we could perhaps put one together in this area and maybe raise some funds for local Christmas cheer (initiatives),” he said.
But he had no way of knowing that first toy run – which attracted 49 local bikers - would evolve into such a large and successful annual fundraising event.
“I never thought it would get this big. It’s almost taken on a life of its own,” he admitted.
Today the Tantramar Toys for Tots is a registered charity with official receipts being issued at the time of donation or point of sale for merchandise during the annual toy run event.
But the 25 year tradition wouldn’t have made it this far without the help of many persons. Besides the many motorcyclists who turn out each year to give new toys and monetary donations, many volunteers also help to ensure the event’s success.
“Including the board of directors, committee members and all of the people who help out on the day of the run, every year more than 50 people volunteer their time to make this event work,” Purdy said.
He made a special note of the dedication of the inmates at Dorchester Penitentiary who raise funds through special events held during the year.
“Every year for the past 23 they have given us a substantial cheque from funds they raised and each year before the run we spend about a half-hour at the institution just talking and showing them our bikes. It’s a really great thing they do; they want to give back to the community,” he said.
In addition to the motorcycle run itself, the Tantramar Toys for Tots organization also raises funds through the sale of Toys for Tots merchandise, a 50/50 draw and special musical event featuring the legendary Minglewood Band with special guests DC Smith & The Streamliners, a local blues band, to be held at the Tantramar Veterans Memorial Civic Centre in Sackville, also on Saturday, Sept. 7.
“We’re hoping the community will come out for the concert, which is open to those 19 years and over. A lot of the bikers will return home after the run so we hope to see a lot of people from across the region turn out for the event; doors open at 8 p.m., the music will be great and we expect it to be the party of the year,” Purdy said.
Throughout the years many individuals and businesses have lent their support to the annual Toys for Tots run. But there’s always room for more sponsors, Purdy noted.
“Our sponsors have been tremendously generous over the years and we’re always very appreciative of their support, but we still don’t have a title sponsor. That would be a great gift to receive, especially this year on our 25th anniversary run,” he noted.
Tantramar Toys for Tots Motorcycle Run participants are asked to meet at the McDonald’s parking lot in Sackville between 12-1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7. Participants will travel to Middle Sackville, turning onto Walker Road, Stanley Drive, to Mount View, back to McDonald’s and through Sackville, past the hospital to Dorchester along Route 935, turning onto Woodlawn Road and King Street, then returning to the civic centre for special ceremonies and musical entertainment.
Concert tickets are $25 each and are available at Tidewater Books in Sackville; JG Jewellers in Amherst and Frank’s Music in Moncton. For more information on the upcoming Tantramar Toys for Tots run, contact Mike Purdy at 506-536-7006, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.