Tue, March 31

Toy Run hits milestone with 20th event Sunday

Motorcyclists will rule the roost and the highways too Sunday when the Verde Valley Toy Run hits the road.

This is a special year for the Toy Run as Sunday's event marks the 20th consecutive year these bikers have made Santa's job considerably easier in the Verde Valley.

The event is pledge-driven and highly competitive. Prizes are given for first, second and third place among the riders based upon the amount of money raised. Last year, Bob Gates won first place with $2,354; Mark Wolfe took second with $2,245; and Camille Severson came in third with $2,030.

The Toy Run drew 469 participants in 2003 and raised a total of $21,277 in cash, prizes and merchandise.

From there, the money collected is put to good use by Toy Run organizers headed up by Cottonwood's Rose Ortiz. "Catholic Social Service has told us that without the toy run they wouldn't have a Christmas program. All the money, after costs, goes to buy toys," explained Ortiz, who for nine years has taken on the huge task of organizing the Toy Run. In addition, her business, Rose's Mobile Food Service, caters and donates the dinner for the event.

Besides the bikers, another good friend to the Toy Run effort is Wal-Mart. Most of the toys are purchased there and Wal-Mart last year sweetened the pot by donating five bicycles for every 10 that were purchased.

Sunday's event begins in the Fry's Shopping Center parking lot. At 10:30 a.m. they will cruise out of the parking lot in a parade that will make a circle via Arizona 89A to Clarkdale then back through Old Town Cottonwood on Main Street before heading out 89A to Cornville.

From there, riders will make three stops: the Old Corral in Cornville; PJ's Pub in the Village of Oak Creek; and Arizona Customs in Sedona.

The public is invited to attend the Toy Run party at the Verde Valley Fairgrounds from 12:30 to 6 p.m. Admission to the fairgrounds is $20 plus an unwrapped, new toy. Participants in the Toy Run also pay $20 plus an unwrapped, new toy. The cost of admission for the public and participants earns them a T-shirt, dinner and admission to the bike and car show at the fairgrounds.

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