Hundreds of motorcyclists, joined by a well-known holiday character, will visit the local children's hospital this weekend to drop off donated toys and games.
The 11th Annual Easter Bunny Toy Run takes off at 11 a.m. Saturday from the Fort Myers Harley-Davidson. Sponsored by the Southwest Florida Chapter of HOG and Fort Myers Harley-Davidson, the ride is led by the Easter Bunny and ends at the Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida.
"We do this for the kids every year," Ron Cox, a Cape resident and member of the local chapter, said. "Being in the hospital at Easter time is not easy - this brings a ray of sunshine into their lives."
The Easter Bunny and some of the goodies delivered to the Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida during a previous holiday visit.
All of the patients are brought downstairs as the motorcycles pull up and pass them by.
"The kids really get off on hearing the rumble of the bikes and the horns and sirens and the Easter Bunny, of course," he said. "Each of the patients is allowed to pick a toy to take home."
The remaining items are used to keep the toy chests in the children's ward stocked for the year.
What: 11th Annual Easter
Bunny Toy Run, preceded
by Bike Night
When: Saturday from 9 to
10:45 a.m., with departure
at 11 a.m.; Friday from 6 to 9
Where: Fort Myers Harley-
Davidson, at 2160 Colonial
Blvd., Fort Myers.
Cost: Registration is $10 for
riders and $5 for passengers
Last year, 780 riders registered for the event - over 1,000 riders and passengers total.
"It's open to all motorcycles, regardless of the brand of bike you ride," Cox said.
Typical motorcycle riding attire is recommended, and helmets are optional.
"We want everybody to come and have a good time," he said.
The event kicks off Friday with a Bike Night from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Fort Myers Harley-Davidson. Vendors will be on site selling motorcycle-related merchandise, and there will be live entertainment.
"Just a good time to get in the right frame of mind for the event," Cox said.
Riders and their passengers will have an opportunity to preregister for the run and avoid the crowd anticipated Saturday morning. The cost to register is $10 per rider and $5 per passenger.
Food and drinks will also be available at the Bike Night.
On Saturday, participants can register and enjoy pre-ride refreshments from 9 to 10:45 a.m. HOG volunteers will line the bikes up for departure at 11 a.m. for the 19-mile police-escorted ride.
"A 6-foot-tall Easter Bunny will make a lap of the parking lot in full costume and we'll head out," he said.
After dropping off the toys at the hospital, the participants will return to the Fort Myers Harley-Davidson for a free box lunch provided by Jason's Deli, assorted beverages and live entertainment. Each rider and passenger will also receive a commemorative pin for taking part in the 2014 run.
Some of the post-run activities will include a 50/50 drawing and raffles with prizes.
Cox noted that the celebration typically concludes at about 3 or 4 p.m.
Donations should be new and unwrapped toys, games or supplies, like crayons or coloring books.
"The hospital staff asked especially for arts and crafts supplies," he said.
Stuffed animals will not be accepted.
"Even if they don't ride, they can bring stuff to Harley-Davidson of Fort Myers and we can bring it down to the hospital," Cox said.
Donations can be dropped off during the Bike Night on Friday.
For more information on the Easter Bunny Toy Run, contact Jack Fenwick at (239) 209-7968 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Fort Myers Harley-Davidson is at 2160 Colonial Blvd. in Fort Myers.
The Golisano Children's Hospital of Southwest Florida is at 9981 S. HealthPark Drive in Fort Myers.