Dave Abrahams has attended every Charity Toy Run held in Cape Town, from the inaugural run in 1983 to the 2016 edition on the last Sunday in November. He is no longer a trustee of the Toy Run Trust, but writes in his private capacity, in reaction to the storm of negative comment surrounding the 2016 Cape Town Toy Run.
AN OPEN LETTER TO CAPE TOWN'S BIKERS
The Toy Run has always been dear to my heart, since up to now it has represented all that is best about the biking community, and its generosity towards those less privileged than themselves.
Most of you know by now that although the mass rides were only slightly down in numbers on the 2015 Toy Run, and the end venue after-party was well-attended, the number of toys donated in 2016 was down to 10 060 from more than 18 000 last year and an all-time high of 33 000 in 2010.
And of those machines, I have counted 311 - almost a third - that clearly do not have toys tied to them, do not have panniers, saddlebags or top boxes and whose riders are not wearing rucksacks, which means they didn't bring toys. And anybody who thinks I'm overstating the case is welcome to visit me at my home, go through those 323 frames with me and count them for himself.
My message to those riders - and you know who you are - is simple:
Whether you think the Toy Run mass ride was badly marshalled, or not; whether you think the end venue after-party was a success, or not; whether you think the food was expensive, or not; whether you think the Toy Run is not what it was, now that the end venue after-party has become a separate, self-sustaining event, or not; whether you think the Toy Run has 'lost its direction', or not; whether you think the Toy Run has become commercialised, or not; you do not have a say.
You do not even have the right to an opinion; it's none of your business. Period.
I am not going to remind these people that they have dealt the Cape Town Toy Run a blow from which it may not recover because, frankly, I don't think they care; if they did they would not be so open and upfront about pitching up without toys.
I am speaking to the thousands of riders who did not attend this year's Toy Run, because they were unhappy that the Toy Run and the mass ride were still completely free, while the end venue after-party wasn't. Or because they felt that the mass ride was badly marshalled, or because they felt there should be only one mass ride.
The Toy run is not about the mass ride, special as it is; it is not about the end venue after-party, which is after all a completely separate event. It is not about the fact that the Toy Run itself is still absolutely free and open to the public
The cupboard is bare
I don't think we will ever be able to prevent riders from pitching up without toys and I'm not sure we should; properly managed, they make the mass ride more impressive.
This is about almost 20 000 disadvantaged children who will not receive a gift this Christmas because, we, the bikers of Cape Town, let them down. This is about Rodney Ford telling more than 100 charities that they will not be having a Christmas party this year because the cupboard is bare.
It is not the Toy Run that has lost its way - it is we, the riders, who have lost ours.
On a personal level, I don't care whether you ride in the mass ride, or not; I respect the reasons of those who choose not to. I don't care whether you attend the end venue after-party, or not; that's up to you.
What I do care about is that you should see past your personal feelings and think about the children; that sometime during the morning of Sunday 26 November 2017, you come down to the end venue and put toys in the truck - and if they are cherished toys that your family have agreed to part with for the benefit of children without parents, so much the better; they will come wrapped in good karma and they won't have cost you a cent.
It's called the Toy Run, not the Run for Toys, for a reason; it's about the toys first and foremost, and about the children whose Christmas they could, and should, brighten.
* Abrahams is Independent Media’s ‘motorbike guy’ in Cape Town.
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.