HARKER HEIGHTS — On growling motorcycles, 18 members of the Fort Hood Harley Owners Group gathered at 1 p.m. Sunday at Fort Hood Harley-Davidson before riding 22 miles to The Pizza Place in Salado to raise money for the group’s 18th annual Bell County Toy Run in November.
Pizza Place owner Ron Cunningham pledged to donate 20 percent of Sunday’s total sales to the toy run, and expected to raise $300-$400, he said.
“Generally, pizza’s not too big on Father’s Day,” Cunningham said. “The majority of people here today are going to be here for this event. ... The biker community is very charitable.”
The toy run attracts hundreds of riders every year, spans 26 miles from Fort Hood Harley-Davidson to the Frank W. Mayborn Civic & Convention Center in Temple, and raises funds for Peaceable Kingdom, an activity center for special needs children, and the First Command Package Brigade, a company that assembles care packages for soldiers overseas, said owners group director Fred McKay.
The main bike ride will take place Nov. 17, and McKay hopes to top the 2012 collection amount of $8,000, he said.
Two previous rides this year raised a total of $1,200 for startup costs, which include T-shirts and vest pins.
Because of Father’s Day and popular rallies this weekend in Austin and Blanco, attendance for Sunday’s ride was low compared to others, McKay said. But four bikers joined the group midride, all participants bought food, and some brought family members, helping the cause.
Five-year owners group member Eddie Gilbert participates in 25-30 rides a year because he likes the company of fellow bikers and helping his community, which bucks negative biker stereotypes, he said.
Through charity rides, “we show that we’re not just out there raising Cain and tearing things up and being anti-establishment,” Gilbert said. “If people look past the riding clothes, they realize we’re just people helping people.”
“We like to give back to the community, and we do so through the toy runs,” McKay said.