More than 50 motorcycle riders took to the streets on Sunday to collect toys as Christmas gifts for Cayman’s children.
The Cayman Islands Motorcycle Riders Association has been running its Toys 4 Tots Christmas toy “charity drive and ride” campaign for the past 10 years.
Gathered at the Cayman Turtle Farm in West Bay, bikers received safety instructions from Keith Keller, president of the association, and along with Santa, bikers took to the road to make a brief stop in East End before making their way to Kaibo Public Beach in North Side for a barbecue and day of activities.
Next weekend, the bikers will team up with the Lions Club of Grand Cayman to have an all-island Christmas party at the Lions Centre to give the toys to the children.
“The first year we started the charity drive we had about 10 riders and only collected about 30 toys,” said Mr. Keller. “This year we had over 50 people sign up.”
Last year, he said, they collected more than 1,200 toys. “We are hoping to do as much or more this year,” Mr. Keller said.
“The Toys for Tots is a worldwide event. Here in Cayman it is no different,” he said. “It’s all a group of motorcyclers wanting to give back to the community through the children. Also, it’s a good chance to collect toys, be a part of the community and see all the riders have a good time.”
Karysa Ebanks, association vice president, said it felt great to ride for a cause.
Riding a Harley Davidson 1,200 Sportster, Ms. Ebanks said even though biking is a male-dominated sport, all the men she rides with are great and are open to women riding on their own or as a passenger.
“We are always looking for more women to join the biking association,” said Ms. Ebanks. She said the Christmas toy drive is one of its biggest charity drives, with a summertime ride for canine rescue and a ride for Meals on Wheels later in the year.
Peter Schmid, a retired airline pilot riding a BMW R1150 R Roaster, said he has been a rider for many years but most of the time when the ride was held he had to work. This year he was excited to participate.
“The kind of riding that the group does, for most part, is safe riding … recently some others have given motorcycle riders a bad name because they ride unlicensed bikes and sometimes they put the bikes together themselves from different bikes, have no lights and there have been some horrific accidents. What we are trying to portray is a different image,” he said.
“I am not a part of the organization, but I feel very much a part of a lot of riders that enjoy the open air and the riding, especially in this climate at this time of the year,” he said.
Carolyn Law-Smith, marketing executive for Flow, said the company was really glad to be involved this year. “We have done it for quite a few years [and] it is something dear to our hearts to give back to the kids at Christmas time.
The office gets together to collect toys as a group effort and supports the charity drive with promotions, T-shirts and other marketing.
“You have to do something as a company to make sure that you give back to the community,” she said.