It’s tough to miss the annual Wood River Toy Run. You don’t often see a convoy of more than 100 motorcycles cruising down the highway with stuffed animals attached to them.

  “People see those motorcycles and they know what it is,” Diane Walker said.

A unique event that really puts the “fun” in fundraiser, the Toy Run will be turning 27 this Saturday. Diane and Tiffany Cross are leading the charge this year.

“It really takes a whole village to put this event on,” Diane explained, “But when I tell people we’re working on the Toy Run they say, ‘How can I help?’”

“The Toy Run is for the kids. All the money it raises stays here and supports local families through the Holiday Baskets program,” Tiffany said.

The proceeds from the Toy Run go to support the Sun Valley REALTORS Give Holiday Baskets program. It provides holiday meals to over 1,200 locals and gift baskets of warm clothes, books, toys and toothbrushes to over 600 children in the Wood River Valley each year.

“Hundreds of families in Blaine County are struggling financially and the holidays make those challenges more apparent,” said Brandee Smith, Executive Director for Sun Valley REALTORS Give. “Holiday Baskets helps brighten the season through its community-wide effort to ensure that every family in need receives a holiday meal and gifts for their children.” 

That’s why supporting the Toy Run is so rewarding. You are literally helping to give the gift of joy. Kids get presents and parents get to remember that we really are a community that cares about one another.

“We’re both former recipients and now we’re carrying the torch. It’s come full circle,” Tiffany said about she and Diane. And Diane isn’t just former a recipient, she’s also ridden her motorcycle in all but one Toy Run.

 You don’t have to ride a motorcycle to support the cause and be part of the fun. You can visit one of the three stops on the run. Festivities kick-off at Grumpy’s in Ketchum at 12:30 pm. At 1:30 the party moves south for the Toy Drop at The Mint in Hailey. At 3pm, the auction, bbq, raffle and live music kick-off at the Silver Dollar in Bellevue.

Everyone is welcome to buy raffle tickets or t-shirts, to donate an unwrapped toy that is worth at least $10 or to make a cash donation. The bbq is only $10 each, thanks to Pete Prekeges, who Tiffany and Diane say really makes sure the Toy Run happens.

It’s pretty to easy to see why the Toy Run is nearly thirty years strong and is growing.

“It is a beautiful tradition,” Diane said.

By Mike McKenna

This story originally appeared in the Weekly Sun.

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