Hundreds of colorful motorcycles gleamed in the morning sun at the local Harley-Davidson as Fort Hood Harley Owners Group bikers prepared to take off on a 26-mile journey for charity.
More than 500 people participated in the 18th annual Bell County Toy Run, including a number of veterans groups, said coordinator Marion Gilbert.
The event’s proceeds will benefit two charities: The First Command Package Brigade and Peacable Kingdom Retreat for Children.
“The package brigade sends packages to soldiers overseas,” Gilbert said. Three hundred sixty-five soldiers will receive gifts following the fundraiser.
Peaceable Kingdom empowers children with special needs, said Program Director Laura Nickel. The organization has paired with Fort Hood HOG several times for events.
“We’re happy to have a supportive community here,” Nickel said.
The day’s special guest was Eric “Senior” Soluri, one of the stars of truTV’s “Full Throttle Saloon,” a reality show about the world’s largest biker bar in Sturgis, S.D.
“(The charities) are causes near and dear to my heart,” Soluri said, “anything to support soldiers and children.” He is active-duty Air Force, stationed at Fort Sam Houston and took part in the toy run to help raise awareness about the event.
For biker Rebecca Ramirez, it was her first time driving solo in the ride. Last year, she rode on the back of her husband’s bike.
“I want to give back to the community,” she said. With five children at home, the toy run was a good example to set for her own kids. “It shows we’re a part of the community.”
The ride culminated in a party at the Frank W. Mayborn Center in Temple, complete with a spaghetti lunch and live music.