Santa helps bikers deliver presents, cheer to children at Cumberland Presbyterian
The cold and rain didn’t stop Santa from ditching his usual mode of transportation to ride a motorcycle alongside the American Eagle Harley-Davidson H.O.G. chapter Saturday morning.
An estimated 60 riders braved the 45-degree weather to ride from the American Eagle Harley-Davidson dealership in Corinth to Cumberland Presbyterian Children’s Home in Denton, where they brought smiles and holiday cheer to 28 deserving children.
Kimberly Williams, chief organizer with the Ladies of Harley, said she had about one month to get Saturday’s event ready.
She said 218 presents and $600 in gift cards were delivered, in addition to 30 cookies donated by Candy Haven.
Williams said if it hadn’t been raining Saturday, there likely would have been at least 100 riders participating.
“Some took cars because of the weather,” Williams said. “We only went about 20 to 30 mph the whole route here, so I feel like I have frost-bitten fingers, but it was worth it.”
The children at the facility were brought in by Child Protective Services because they were in abusive and/or neglectful situations, said Dr. Jennifer Livings, vice president of programs for Cumberland Presbyterian Children’s Home.
Since 2004, the chapter has been presenting gifts to the home, which some feel is often forgotten in the community, said Bryan Tynes, general manager for American Eagle Harley-Davidson in Corinth. The dealership sponsors the ride.
“Sometimes, these kids show up with nothing but a trash bag with a pair of shoes inside,” Tynes said. “We just want to do our part and help.”
Tynes said the children make wish lists, and the home makes sure to notify the motorcycle chapter of any new children who might be added.
Children were moved to tears while opening their gifts — ranging from a brand-new electric guitar to an art set.
After they were finished opening presents and eating pizza, there were pictures with Santa, face painting and various activity stations throughout the gym to continue the Christmas spirit.
Livings said she is most grateful for a $4,000 check presented to her from Mike Spence, director of the American Eagle H.O.G. chapter.
All money collected by the motorcycle chapter was matched by the dealership, event organizers said.
Livings said the monetary donation will go directly toward their clients’ needs to provide a safe haven with a home-like environment free of abuse and neglect.
Spence, who said he has been participating in the Children’s Home ride for four years now, said it’s a no-brainer why they should continue the tradition.
“Every motorcyclist has a heart for kids,” he said.
MEGAN GRAY-HATFIELD can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.