By Colleen Flaherty
Killeen Daily Herald
Santa got two more reindeer Sunday during the Bell County Toy Run: Harley and Davidson.
About 500 such bikes, some with multiple riders, filled the roadways between Harker Heights and Temple during the 15th annual run, which raised money and collected toys for the Peaceable Kingdom Village Retreat for Children.
The nonprofit retreat offers free opportunities for learning, socialization and fun in a natural setting for kids with disabilities and chronic illnesses.
To participate in the run, riders donated $10 or a toy or gift of equal or greater value.
Bikers, mostly Fort Hood Area Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.) Chapter members, congregated Sunday morning at the Fort Hood Harley-Davidson shop, some wearing Santa hats as they drank coffee and ate donuts.
At noon, the motorcycle elves mounted their rides and headed to Temple's Frank W. Mayborn Civic and Convention Center for festivities including lunch, live music and a silent auction.
Fort Hood H.O.G. Chapter director Fred McKay spearheaded planning efforts.
"We just do it for the kids," he said.
Bikers are uniquely - and to some, surprisingly - charitable, he added.
"The biker is a weird breed when you're going after charity things like that," he said. "He gives what he doesn't have for others. We'll see a biker out there who barely has money for gas but gives a gift."
McKay wasn't yet sure how much money had been raised, he said Sunday, but he expected the figure to be up to $6,000.
That was good news to Peaceable Kingdom director Scott Simmonds, who said he views his organization's relationship with the Fort Hood H.O.G. Chapter as a "strong partnership that's making a difference in the community."
"This isn't the only thing we do together," he said.
Once a year, chapter members visit the retreat and allow children, some of whom are missing limbs, to see, touch and mount their bikes, imagining what it would be like to go for a ride.
Drew Bierds, general manager at Fort Hood Harley-Davidson, echoed McKay's and Simmonds' sentiments about biker charity.
"Bikers have always been very generous, more so than most people can imagine," he said. "Toys runs are a big part of biker culture."
Contact Colleen Flaherty at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHfeatures.