By Callie Hietala
Richard “Big Bird” Holcomb will ride again, at least in spirit, when kickstands go up Saturday as the 29th annual Big Bird Toy Run gets underway.
The run was created by Holcomb to benefit Christmas Cheer. He died in February. Four years ago, as Holcomb’s heath began to decline, he passed the baton to BTW21’s Chad Hall, who has only missed two of the rides since the event began.
Hall said that Holcomb decided to do something to support Christmas Cheer because he realized how beneficial that program was to the community.
“He had a big heart for kids and people in need,” Hall said. Holcomb “saw a need in our community” and decided he could do something to help.
Hall said the ride has grown exponentially since it began nearly 30 years ago. This year, he expects anywhere from 175 to 275 bikers, cars, trucks, hot rods, and others to participate.
On average, Hall said the event raises $12,000 to 15,000 for Martinsville and Henry County families in need.
This year, Hall said, he wants to do the ride the same way Holcomb did, with just a few modifications. Registration will take place from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Bird’s Cycle Shop, 6537 Greensboro Road in Ridgeway. Registration is $10 or one new toy. Kickstands go up promptly at 1 p.m. Riders will make their way through Martinsville, Collinsville, and Bassett, then down Koehler Road to the final stop at Sportlanes.
Once there, riders may enjoy a meal, music from the band Madhouse, door prizes, and an auction that will include jewelry, Harley-Davidson apparel, furniture, and some unique items donated to the cause. Community members are invited and encouraged to pay the $10 admission fee at Sportlanes to join in the fun, food, and festivities, even if they do not want to ride.
Once the auction is done, Hall said he will “turn Madhouse loose and let the party roll.”
None of this would not be happening if Holcomb hadn’t organized that first ride in 1992.
“He raised a lot of money and did a lot of good,” Hall said. His legacy will live on in this year’s ride, in all the years of rides still to come, and in the smiles of children who have new toys under the Christmas tree thanks to the efforts of Christmas Cheer and Big Bird’s Toy Run.