DSC_1257.jpgMotorcyclists make their way to Carriage Housing during this year’s toy run.

When you’re a child, there is probably no day filled with more anticipation and promise than Christmas, even to one living in shelter.

And that is why more than 175 people including 135 motorcyclists descended upon HAC’s Carriage House shelter in Falmouth at the beginning of last month. They were armed with toys of all shapes and sizes – Hot Wheels, board games and remote control cars to name a few – that will go to children staying in HAC shelters or its scattered site units this holiday season.

It was all part of the 16th Annual Chris Wetherbee Memorial Toy Run dedicated to spreading a little cheer to those in need.

When asked why it was so important for them to participate in the event, a common refrain from bikers was, “It’s for the children.”

“They deserve a chance in life,” said Matthew Gilbert of New Bedford, who was taking part in his fifth run.

Along with the gifts, participants raised $3,200 that will go to benefit HAC’s shelter program as well as families in need.

HAC CEO Rick Presbrey said the annual toy run “is really the beginning of the holiday season for people at HAC. This brings a deeper meaning to what we’re doing.”

“You have no idea what this means to our children and our clients to look around and know that 175 plus people care about them,” Carriage House facility director Katie Geissler told those in attendance.

DSC_1359.jpgThere were several chapters that came from off-Cape to participate in this year’s toy run, including the Boston HOG Chapter.

Organized by the Cape Cod Harley Owners Group (HOG), the holiday ride has been going on for roughly 26 years. In 1999, it was named in honor of Christina Wetherbee, a longtime participant in the event who died of cancer the following spring. Since then, Christina’s husband Joe Wetherbee and his second wife, Clarissa, have overseen the charitable event in her memory.

As they have in the past, participants started their morning off at the Buzzards Bay Eagles Hall before making their way to Carriage House where they were greeted by a cheering crowd that included shelter clients and HAC staff.

Inside the shelter’s kitchen, Bob Courtemanche of Mashpee, Frank Cogliano of Sysco Boston, Mike and Shaun Lewis of Seafood Sam’s in Falmouth, and Jeff Lewis of Seafood Sam’s in Sandwich, prepared chili, clam chowder, hot dogs and warm apple cider for motorcyclists who came as far away as Boston to deliver a truck full of gifts.

They did so to support those like Brianna Sheinis, who has lived at Carriage House with her daughter Taryn, 3, for a little over a year. While Brianna simply wanted a “home for me and my child” this Christmas, she understood her daughter’s holiday wishes would be fulfilled this season by the kindness of complete strangers on motorcycles. “When you’re a kid, you don’t want clothes. You want toys,” she said, admitting that this is something she would have difficulty providing for Taryn. “This is an amazing help. You kind of feel really humbled by it.” 

See more photos of this year’s toy run by visiting our Facebook page