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Toy Runners donate mountains of toys

Generous bikers turned out in their thousands all over the country on Sunday for the 30th annual motorcycle Toy Run, a charity that collects toys for needy children every Christmas.

The Gauteng Toy Run was as usual the largest, and the numbers were impressive with about 37 000 toys collected - well up on the number of toys donated in 2011.

Whether they were on superbikes, cruisers or scooters, all were united in the common cause of putting a smile on a childs face. Picture: Dave AbrahamsA group of Gaunteng Toy Runners gets ready for the mass ride from Meadowdale Mall near Edenvale. Picture: Denis DroppaEven Teletubbies got in on the act at the Gauteng Toy Run. Picture: Denis DroppaGauteng Toy Run participants queue to hand in their toys at the Benoni Northerns sports club. Picture: Denis DroppaThe collection tent kept the Gauteng Toy Run crew busy, with about 37 000 toys donated. Picture: Denis DroppaPart of the large crowd of Gauteng Toy Runners enjoying the afternoon at Benoni Northerns sports grounds. Picture: Denis DroppaGauteng Toy Run riders enjoyed some live classic rock courtesy of bands Tryst and Backbone.  Picture: Denis DroppaJust a few of the bikes lined up for the start of the Cape Town Toy Run at Epping Market. Picture: Dave AbrahamsAs always, there were thousands of Teddy Bears at the Cape Town Toy Run. Picture: Dave AbrahamsThere were motorcycles of all shapes and sizes at the Cape Town Toy Run, all festooned with toys. Picture: Dave AbrahamsRiding for the children: the procession took an hour to pass any given point.  Picture: Dave AbrahamsYou are looking at almost 100 cubic metres of toys, weighing close to 10 tons, bringing Christmas to 30 000 disadvantaged children in and around Cape Town. Picture: Dave Abrahams

Several mass rides started in various parts of Johannesburg burg and converged on Benoni Northerns sports club, where participants handed in a mountain of teddies and other toys that will help brighten the lives of youngsters living in children's homes and orphanages.

COMMON CAUSE

The mass rides were safely guided with the help of the Ekurhuleni Metro Police Department which closed off intersections en route to Benoni, and the long motorcycle convoys - with the bikes colourfully bedecked in toys - looked quite a spectacle as they cruised past.

The Toy Run always gathers an eclectic mix of participants. Whether they were on superbikes, cruisers, scooters, or families that arrived in their cars - all were united in the common cause of putting a smile on a child's face.

But the event is also one of the biggest biking parties of the year and, after handing in their toys participants chilled out in a carnival atmosphere at the end venue as they filled their stomachs, browsed through the stalls, and enjoyed some live classic-rock courtesy of bands Tryst and Backbone.

CAPE TOWN

About 7000 riders and pillions turned out for the 30th annual Cape Town Charity Toy Run on Sunday, their bikes, as always, festooned with all manner of toys. Two groups of riders started simultaneously from the Ottery Hypermarket and Epping market, merging on Union Avenue for the final few kilometres to Maynardville in Wynberg, cheered on by thousands of spectators and marshalled by dozens of traffic officers.

Thousands of Capetonians, eager to be a part of the vibe - whether bikers or not - joined them at Maynardville, swelling the numbers to about 10 000. Some brought not just a toy but packets full, helping to fill the two five-tonne trucks to overflowing with nearly 100 cubic metres of toys, from cricket sets to Barbie dolls to big red fire engines and, of course, thousands upon thousands of teddy bears.

The influence of the Toy Run logo is so strong some bikers actually refer to it as the Teddy Run but nobody cares, as long as they bring toys.

However, we saw a disturbing number of both riders and public coming along empty-handed to enjoy the entertainment without paying their dues, a problem convenor Rodney Ford has noted for future reference.

They were welcomed by Councillor Raeline Arendse, the city's head of Early Childhood Development, who made much of the Toy Run's 30-year history and its status as an authentic Cape Town institution - something that would probably have horrified the 76 free-spirited bikers who took part in the inaugural Toy Run on the last Sunday in November 1983. Certainly they would never have believed that it would grow to the point where thousands of riders donated more than 30 000 toys each year.

BIKER PARTY

Not only that but, thanks to the assistance of the City and dozens of sponsors, the end venue has become an event in its own right, the biggest, loudest biker party of the year, with live music, comedy and magic, trade stalls selling anything you can think of to adorn bike or rider and dozens of food and drink stalls.

But always, in the background, looming over the revellers, their friends and their bikes, there are the two huge trucks full of toys, reminding us what the Toy Run is really all about. It's about Cape Town's loudest minority opening their hearts to its most silent; it's about the children.

Sadly, the Cape Town Toy Run was marred by the death of Mitchells Plain rider Clinton “Chingy” Hess after his bike and a car collided on Lansdowne Road in Philippi while he was on his way home from Maynardville.

Glynis Coetzee, spokeswoman for the Toy Run, said: “For us this is truly tragic; our condolences go out to the family. It's very sad that such a great event was followed by such an unfortunate incident.”

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