BRANDON, Florida -- For 19 years, a Brandon couple has helped hundreds of people in the community see Christmas in a whole new light through the eyes of a child. On Sunday, they hope to continue that tradition through the Cookson Hills Toy Run they created together.
Bill and Sheri Brown say their goal is to make sure no child in eastern Hillsborough County is forgotten for Christmas. Last year, 500 bikers were part of a group of 2,700 people who gave toys to 500 children from Riverview, Thonotosassa, Brandon, Seffner, Mango, Valrico, and Plant City.
The children were newborn to 18 years old and some of the children have special needs.
Hundreds of bikers across the Tampa Bay area are invited to hand deliver toys to children who, without them, would not have a Christmas.
"We went to a yard sale at a small children's home in Seffner 18 years ago and discovered that they didn't get much," said Sheri, "and we thought with the amount of people that we knew we could do something to help. So, we got our friends together and 45 people went out and gave 18 kids Christmas."
Sheri says the bikers were hooked after delivering the toys and seeing the children's faces. She added, "You see big, old six-foot burly bikers with tears running down their cheeks. They go, 'This is awesome! We gotta' do it again.'"
After a few years, it turned from a biker event into a community family event. It's motivated hundreds of people who aren't bikers to take part.
It's not too late to buy gifts to hand out at the Cookson Hills Toy Run. The toy run is Sunday, Dec. 2.
At 10 a.m., bikers and cars will line up with new toys at Veteran's Memorial Park in Tampa at Highway 301 South and the Bypass Canal, which is south of the Florida State Fairgrounds.
The group will leave the park at 1 p.m. and take part in a 20 mile "Country Ride" to Evans Park, which is located at 1104 Kingsway Road North in Seffner. That's just off Highway 92 next to Burnett Middle School.
At 2:30 p.m., the wrapping paper comes off as kids get to open their presents.
Bill and Sheri Brown paid for the toy run out of their own pocket for the first 11 years. But now they rely mainly on donations from the community to buy toys for kids and pay for the expenses of putting on the event.
10 News weekend anchor Tammie Fields and her family (pictured) have donated toys in the Cookson Hills Toy Run for several years.