The connection between bikers and Toys for Tots is strong. The thread that connects the American biker to the venerable charity is long and thick and is seemingly woven into the fabric of the vests they wear as they thunder along the streets. Each year, hundreds of similar events take place across the United States, from coast to coast and city to city, each of them featuring riders united in a common cause - bringing smiles and joy to less fortunate children for the holidays.
Created in 1991 at the behest of the US Marine Corps, Toys for Tots seeks to give the gift of hope, in the form of new toys for children. This program has been a tremendous success through the years, and is needed now more than ever.
For the 21st consecutive year, Harley-Davidson of Michigan City has sponsored their very own event to benefit the charity, the Blue Ball Run and Chili Cook-off. Although this year’s event looked a bit different due to regulations put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“We are doing things a little bit differently this year,” said Katlyn Slater, office manager for Harley-Davidson of Michigan City. “We are serving chili, rather than having our usual chili cook-off.”
Slater said that this year’s route would also look a little different. Whereas in previous years, riders followed a preset route, with planned stops at area restaurants and bars, this year’s ride was more of a destination ride, with riders able to pick and choose which locations they wanted to visit before returning to the dealership for a hot cup of delicious chili.
“With everything going on, we wanted to be as safe as possible, so we made that change,” said Slater.
This year’s ride was packed, with over 160 riders showing up for the event.
“The weather today is wonderful. It’s a great day to go out and support a good cause,” said Slater. “Riders want to ride, and they want to benefit something. It’s just a great day to be out here, and it’s for a good cause.”
Alex Laux of Michigan City, Indiana brought his 1999 Honda Shadow 750 out for the run, and brought his six year-old daughter Hunter along for the ride. Laux said that, since his birthday is November 3, he and his family have made participating in the Blue Ball Run a family tradition.
“I’ve done this ride for several years,” said Laux. “Anytime you can donate to help kids who are less fortunate, it's just a great thing to do.”
“I just want to thank everybody who came out to support us,” said Jeff Haggerty, general manager of Harley-Davidson of Michigan City. “Their continued support and generosity really says a lot about them, and we really appreciate it.”
The cost to ride was $10/person, with proceeds going directly to buy toys to donate to Toys for Tots.
“We’re hoping to fill the box here several times over,” said Slater.
If you missed the ride, but would still like to make a donation, Harley-Davidson of Michigan City will have their Toys for Tots box available on-site until December 21. Visitors to the dealership are encouraged to drop off new, unwrapped toys.
For more information about Toys for Tots, you can find them online at https://www.toysfortots.org/. For more information about Harley-Davidson of Michigan City, visit them online at https://www.hdmichigancity.com/