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United Motorcyclists of Vermont’s Annual Toy Run

United Motorcyclists of Vermont's Annual Toy Run
UMV 2016 Toy Run
Every year on the second Saturday of August United Motorcyclists of Vermont holds a Toy Run to benefit the kids at Shriners Hospitals for Children.

We stage at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Parking Lot in Berlin, VT starting around 9:00 am.

There is no charge to take part, we do ask that you donate to the Shriners. Bring a new, unwrapped toy, cash or your checkbook to make a donation.

The First Toy Run by Joe Benning

Joe Benning spoke at the 25th Annual Toy Run and told the history of the event.

The idea for a toy run was hatched at the very first FOR-Vermont organizational meeting (Freedom of the Road) in the summer of 1986. We knew the importance of building credibility and avoiding becoming known as just “the helmet law guys”.
Joe Benning 2011 United Motorcyclists of Vermont Toy Run
We decided to hold it in August for a simple reason; we trusted the weather more. Rain is more likely in July and it might snow in September. So August 16 it was.

We enlisted WDEV as co-sponsor to gain coverage and set the following Saturday as a rain date. Bad idea! More on that later.

I approached Central Vermont Community Action as a potential recipient of the toys. They turned us down, saying we were too “political.” This in spite of the fact that we hadn’t yet done anything political. Then we were also rebuffed by the state Social and Rehabilitation Services Department.
First Vermont Motorcycle Toy Run
I dropped a dime on the bureaucrats, took these rejections to the media and got huge coverage; CVCAC and the state looked like fools and FOR-Vermont was off and running as “the good guys.”

That’s when we approached the Shriners and forged a lasting relationship.

We started the run at Dubois Trucking on Route 14 in Barre. On the day of the run, it drizzled and threatened rain. I was in a panic, wondering whether to postpone it until the rain date. Then I realized there’d be no way to get the word out, so we went ahead.

About 125 bikes showed up on a cloudy, overcast dreary day, but the toy run went off without a hitch. That night we partied in a field alongside a road in Craftsbury.

And now, as Paul Harvey said, you know “the rest of the story.” Hope this helps. And please tell everybody I said hi. Even though I’m probably just a forgotten piece of ancient history by now, my heart is still with the movement.

Ride safe, ride free, ride proud.”

Joe Benning

Pics From Previous Toy Runs…

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