By Rose L. Thayer
Killeen Daily Herald
The sound of nearly 600 motorcycles roared down U.S. Highway 190 Sunday as the 16th Annual Bell County Toy Run made its way from Killeen to Temple.
"We like to call it the sound of freedom," said Georgie McAteer, secretary of the Fort Hood Chapter, Harley Owners Group, which hosts the event to benefit Peacable Kingdom - a camp for special needs children located in Bell County.
"It's a good feeling," she said. "They rely very heavily on things like this event so they can continue to do things."
To register for the ride, participants donated a minimum of either $10 or a new of equal value.
The riders left Fort Hood Harley Davidson around noon with a police escort to have a spaghetti lunch at the Frank W. Mayborn Civic and Convention Center. The 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment provided a color guard.
"It's a community of bikers coming out to support a good cause," said Geoff Harris, of Killeen. This was his sixth time riding in the toy run. He said he is always amazed by the amount and the variety of people and bikes that come out.
David Parnell, of Warriors of the Way Killeen Chapter, agreed.
"You get to watch all these grizzly motorcycles with toys on them and everybody hugs each other," said Parnell.
His motorcycle club provides the snacks and beverages to riders before they left the parking lot.
"There's a camaraderie that bikers have no matter what patch they wear," said his wife, Barbara Parnell. "They all come together and provide toys for kids. It's just wonderful."
McAteer said Sunday's beautiful riding weather may have helped bring a larger than normal crowd, but that most come to support the community.
"In this community there are so many people that need help and being able to do something that give back to the community, it means something," she said.
Contact Rose L. Thayer at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7463.