John Dalke was happily surprised Saturday to be riding in the 26th annual Marion County Toy Run.
“Going this long is pretty amazing,” he said. “That’s just a tribute to how many people get involved. It’s something a lot of people put on their schedules.”
Saturday’s haul included seven tables of donated toys, with 89 bikers and 23 cars making the trip from Marion to Hillsboro.
Dalke has ridden as Santa Claus every year but one since the event started. Being able to continue year after year is a testament to the dedication of people in the area, he said.
“It shows how giving the people throughout Marion County are,” he said. “This money we make all goes toward good causes. It goes to keep kids fed and make sure they can get a Christmas present.”
Route 56 Cruisers car club president Kim Abrahams was one of the founding members with Mike Sechler.
“I didn’t think I would continue this long,” Abrahams said.
The original sponsors were Sons of the American Legion, and A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments of Kansas, Inc., an association for motorcyclists’ rights.
The car club soon joined as well, thanks to Abrahams’ involvement.
Having multiple sponsors makes the event easier for everyone, he said.
“It helps because we all work together,” he said.
Moving the event to earlier in November and expanding the reach to Marion both improved participation after the first few years, said Dalke, a member of the Sons of the American Legion.
“The weather tends to be much better now than right around Thanksgiving,” he said. “It also helped when we made it the Marion County Toy Run. It encouraged even more involvement. I especially enjoyed when we started in Marion and started coming to Hillsboro — that was a lot of fun.”
While Saturday’s participation numbers were about average, the event’s inaugural year had just 15 bikes, Abrahams said.
“The first five years we kept building,” he said. “We got quite a few, and then it started tapering off.”