The Big Bird Toy Run raised nearly $10,000 for Christmas Cheer of Martinsville and Henry County. The ride, started by Richard “Big Bird” Holcomb and continued by Chad Hall two years after Holcomb’s death, brings bikers together for a day of fun and charity.
Nearly 170 bikes participated in the ride, along with 300 to 350 people in attending the event. The ride went through Martinsville, Collinsville, and Bassett before ending at Sportlanes in Collinsville for food, music, giveaways, door prizes, auctions, and more.
“(It was a) safe ride, everybody was good, no accidents, thank God for that,” Hall said. “We had a great turnout at Sportlanes. Madhouse played for about 30 to 40 minutes, just rocked the place out, then we did about two and a half hours of giveaways, door prizes, auctions, all that cool stuff.”
Although the number of bikers was off compared to last year, the event raised more funds.
“I don’t think we had as many motorcycles this year as we did last year. I think we had probably 175 to 200 last year, but as far as what we raised, (it) was actually up a couple thousand bucks. I think we raised $7,500 last year, so we raised a little more money this year,” Hall said.
According to Hall, the energy surrounding this year’s run was different than in recent years. This year, participants enjoyed being with each other and the festivities.
“It felt like a new vibe this year. Just a new energy this year because we had a beautiful day. It was warm, everybody was just glad to be out,” Hall said. “Most people probably got back home before the rain came. It was a really good energy, really good vibe, everybody just having a good time. It looked like just one big family. Brothers helping brothers, hanging out, and that’s kind of the thing for bikers.”
Hall is already looking at ways to make next year’s run even better.
“We’re definitely going to make some changes year to year, because I’ve got a lot of different ideas,” he said.
One of the changes Hall wants to make is promoting the event earlier to increase participation.
“Next year, I want to do like a 60-day campaign, and really try to up our game in marketing,” he said.
Hall also is considering additional activities such as a burnout pit. Bikers would pay to enter the pit and do a burnout, which could spark competitions.
“We’re looking at putting in a burnout pit at Sportlanes. That’ll be an addition, maybe next year. It will be a burnout pit for bikers to raise money. You can pull in, do a burnout, and all that. Money will be raised. There can be competitions and everything else when you get into a burnout pit,” Hall said.
He is also looking towards options for more extravagant food options, including a cookout or barbecue, though those details are not set in stone.
“We’ve also even discussed having a whole shindig outside. Doing some barbecue, donating everything. Might could just be a plate lunch, or we could try to raise a few more dollars like that,” Hall said.
Another big change, if the run continues to grow, will be the venue. As participation increases, Sportlanes’ ability to accommodate participants declines, Hall said, adding that he is interested in an outdoor venue, but that may involve moving the run to a warmer date in the future.
“Honestly if it keeps going, we’re going to have to find an outdoor venue, which is why we’re even looking at moving it up a little warmer, so we can all be outside. All of us can’t get in Sportlanes.”
However, no matter the changes, Hall wants to make sure “to do what the bikers want, keep them riding.
“I look forward to doing it next year. Again, our goal is to continue this ride. This is my fourth year doing it, this is the second year we’ve done it without Big Bird. Big shout out to Lisa Holcomb, that’s Big Bird’s sister. She was Mrs. Claus and was a big part of it. I can’t even tell you all the people that helped with this,” he said.
Hall also extended his thanks to this year’s sponsors that include Bird’s Cycle Shop, BTW21, ND, TRASH Ministry, the Henry County Enterprise, Jerry’s Pizza, Bassett Funeral Service, Radial, Eden Jewelry, Rust and Chrome, Christmas Cheer, Papa’s Pizzeria, Sportlanes, Daniel’s Auto Glass, Restoration Water Damage Experts, Madhouse, and Bassett Furniture.