Bikers, businesses deliver toys to Hoops hospital
HUNTINGTON - Santa Claus made an early stop at the Hoops Family Children’s Hospital on Saturday afternoon - roaring in on a Harley-Davidson, no less.
In reality, the elf work behind the inaugural Bykes 2 Tykes - a gathering and dropping off of roughly 300 toys - was fueled by the combined enthusiasm of several local businesses and motorcycle clubs, led and organized by Allstate Insurance in Huntington.
“Counter-intuitive to what people know about motorcycle clubs and ‘big, bad bikers,’ we’ll do anything for kids,” said Alex Parker, both an Allstate employee and a member of the Ourea Demons Motorcycle Club of Huntington. “As soon as I told people we were going to do a toy ride to benefit the children’s hospital, people just took up arms and wanted to make sure every kid had a gift.”
What started as a backroom conversation at Allstate’s 7th Avenue office in October soon snowballed into a litany of local businesses chipping in to round up toys, including Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Tic Toc Tire, FoodFair and Huntington Federal. Midway Drive-In provided 120 hot dogs for a free lunch when the toys arrived at the hospital. Participants from the local motorcycle community included the Wayfarers, Fire and Iron, U.S. Military Vets and ODMC.
No matter who they called for help, there was no hesitation, said Chris Greear, Allstate of Huntington owner.
“Everybody smiled and followed up with us,” he said. “The support was just phenomenal. I don’t really know what else to say.”
The response is magnified considering it took only four weeks to round up that many toys. The event will continue next year, and Greear said he expected to hit 600 toys in 2019.
As riders began to saddle up at Black Sheep Harley-Davidson for the short ride to the hospital, Greear admitted that at the end of the day, it doesn’t change the fact that many of those children and families are still going to have to spend Christmas in a hospital room.
But maybe they could help them forget that for a little bit.
“We’re not going to make their Christmas, but if we can put a smile on their face today, it’s all worth it,” he added.