LIMA — Roger Sexton has been playing Santa Claus at the annual ABATE Toy Run for the past 15 years.
It sort of fell into his lap.
“I got volunteered for it and I just kind of been doing it ever since. I just like it for the kids and everything. I’ve been doing the toy runs 32 years. I missed one event, and that was the very first one. I’ve been doing it all these years,” said Sexton.
This year, more than 500 motorcycles participated in the 33rd annual ABATE Toy Run at the Allen County Fairgrounds, but Sexton has seen the number of people coming out dropping.
“It’s dropped off. It’s not as big as it used to be. We’ve had up to 900 bikes before,” he said.
Dana Frost, region 3 director for ABATE of Ohio [American Bikers Aimed Toward Education], has been involved in the toy run for 32 years.
“It’s all about raising money for needy kids for Christmas. The kids [have got to] have a Christmas, and sometimes the parents can’t just swing the house payment and all of the bills and have a Christmas, too, so that’s where we step in and raise money and help them out,” said Frost.
It’s estimated the toy run has raised around $2 million since its inception.
“Last year, we topped $26,000 just in one day and it was great,” he said.
The toy run is something the region’s motorcycle clubs are enthusiastic to support.
“Bikers have good hearts, and for a charity event, they’re all for that. They do the poker runs. All year long, they’re donating something, somewhere,” he said.
Events like the toy run help paint a different picture of the stereotypical biker.
“It paints a better picture of them from years gone by. Back in the 60s, all of the trouble was starting and everything. It’s a whole lot better now,” he said.
According to Frost, the group works with the West Ohio Community Action Partnership.
“We get our names from WOCAP, which used to be LACCA. People go in there and sign up for their Christmas — Seals of Love, I believe it is called — and they give us the names of different families, what the kids want, and we go and take our team and go shopping,” he said.
The only time Frost meets these families is when they come in and pick up the presents, and it’s that interaction that makes it all worth it.
“It’s good. It makes the heart feel good, real good. It warms the heart,” he added.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0409