- Real Estate Listings
- Good News
At 10 am Sunday, Sept 17, dozens of motorcycles and their riders will head out from Penticton's Rotary Park toward Summerland. From there they'll ride to Oliver and then Okanagan Falls before returning to Rotary.
Along the way, they’ll pick up donated toys and donated dollars, which they'll then combine with the money and toys they brought along themselves, before turning the whole thing over to the St Vincent De Paul Society's Christmas hamper program.
It's the South Okanagan Toy Run/Poker Run, and at 36 years of age it's one of the longest running events in the region. It’s also one of the coolest. A bunch of bikers riding in formation along Hwy 97, gifts strapped to their bikes and one dressed as Santa?
It just doesn’t get much more awesome. Except that last year's was he best yet, with 80-plus riders and a record $3,000-plus in cash donations (and a bunch of toys too).
Only this year, there'll be a big hurt at the Toy Run. Just a month ago on Aug. 1st, John Young, better known to his friends and all those who knew him as "Red" and better known to all who've watched the Toy Run in the past couple decades as "Santa," passed away at his home in Gallagher Lake.
"Red was OMRA," said current Toy Run organizer Geoff "Gawnzo" Gawne in reference to both the man and the organization he piloted for so many years, the Okanagan Motorcycle Riders Association.
"He's been here the longest. He kept these things -- OMRA and the Toy Run -- going. When there was talk of folding the club, Red said, 'No. We can quit doing whatever else, but we're still doing the Toy Run.'
"He's been such a big part of this thing. And he expected to be with us again this year, but it just wasn’t to be. He'll be missed big time."
According to Gawne, there'll be an official memorial run for Red, who's survived by his wife Denise, in the spring. In the meantime, the 2023 Toy Run is being conducted in his memory.
And that's where the public comes in. Although the riders themselves bring along toys and bucks to the starting line at Rotary Park, the idea behind the "run" is to pick up even more toys and bucks on the way.
All you have to do is bring your donation (unwrapped toys or cash) to the event's start/finish line at Rotary Park in Penticton between the hours of 9 am and 1 pm, Sunday, Sept. 17, or to any of the three stops on the run at the same time the pack is cruising by.
That's approximately 10:30 am for the Summerland High School in Summerland, 11:30 am for the A&W restaurant in Oliver, and 12 noon for Belich's AG Foods in Okanagan Falls.
Those who want to donate to the cause online can do so by e-transfering to this email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
And finally, Geoff Gawne wants area motorcyclists to know they needn't be a member of OMRA or a veteran of past Toy Runs to join up in this year's edition.
They merely need to show up by 9:30 am on the 17th at Rotary Park with a toy or a few bucks to donate and play poker along the way.
For more info, contact Geoff Gawne at email@example.com or by phone at 250-488-2237.