Some say “Way more than that!” others say, “Sounds about right” and then there are the ones that say “No! Not near that many!” (see slide show). One thing for sure; it’s one of those crescendo ‘highs’ every biker searches out. Somewhat like those new, picturesque, twisty, winding ‘switchback’ roads that bikers love so much. Automobiles don’t quite cut it when navigating something like this – “cars lean the wrong way” as the saying goes.
Anytime an event as enormous as the ‘Biggest Toy Run in Texas’ has to change venues, its organizers get educated in a host of ‘Ooops, that didn’t go so well’ moments. Ask me how I know.
Since my husband and I work the toy run, I beat myself up for a couple days before finding out I wasn’t the only one slapping my forehead. We all had a huge learning curve to go through by changing venues for the toy run.
I once saw a bumper sticker that read, “If you think education is expensive, try experience”. However, our education didn’t seem to have a negative effect on the turnout of thousands and thousands of bikers, bringing toys, cash and their bona fide ‘It’s all about the kids’ mantra.
These faithful, movers and shakers rumbled out of their Dallas and Ft Worth staging areas and headed toward Grand Prairie, donning their motorcycles with all manner of Christmas toys and sparkling decorations. After dismounting their machines, this sea of leather-back-patting, boot wearing, and camera clicking, populace formed a living river that flowed through the gates of AirHogs Baseball Park in Grand Prairie, TX.
You see, last year, we received the ‘left foot of fellowship’ from Arlington Convention Center when the Cowboys worked out a deal to play in their new stadium on the same Sunday the Toy Run is held. We were told the City of Arlington wouldn’t allow us to use their Convention Center per our contracted agreement because the Cowboys would need all the parking lots for miles around.
At first, it wasn’t only a slap-in-the-face shock, but while our cheeks were still stinging from our perceived assault, that “Holy Cow! – What are we going to do now?” moment began to settle in. When you have to facilitate as many bikers and their riding accoutrements as The Big Texas Toy Run, there are many unique details to be considered. Not only that – we had all those special needs children counting on us.
We had to limp our way through our 25th Toy Run, given our short notice from Arlington. For a while, it looked like our children might be dramatically short-changed. Although they had to do with slightly less than they received in past years, we didn’t hear one gripe or complaint from our kids at Ft Worth MHMR and Dallas Metrocare.
In hind sight, we discovered our new venue was much better equipped to meet our needs and the City of Grand Prairie opened their arms wide to us. A worker at the Baseball Park even made the remark “This is the largest crowd I’ve ever seen here.” So we’re all happy at the new relationship that was forged out of seemingly ‘ill fate’. It wasn’t ‘ill fate’ after all – it was one of those blessings in disguise.
This past Sunday gave North Texas bikers had a chance to make-up for the minor cut-back from last year. And ‘make-up’ they did with $110,000 in cash and an estimated half-million dollars in toys. The bikers had a splendid day of camaraderie, an exhilarating ride, a great ‘after party’ and a satisfied feeling of rolling in to champion a need of innocent children.
We all would be better off realizing that no family, no matter how perfect one perceives their family to be, is always subject to becoming a family with a special needs child. We need to understand how precious these ‘different’ children are. It has been my experience to watch families touched with special needs children become better people than they were before the ‘less than perfect’ child arrived. I guess that could also be called another one of those ‘blessings in disguise’.