East Texas bikers rally to hold 29th annual Truman Smith Toy Run amidst pandemic

Organizers made modifications because of COVID-19

East Texas bikers rally to hold 29th annual Truman Smith Toy Run amidst pandemic

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - An East Texas holiday tradition of giving goes on.

For the past 28 years, East Texas motorcycle clubs have banded together to bring toys to children at a special needs facility.

Despite the COVID challenge, a group came together to see that the tradition continues for the 29th year.

Loading presents into a delivery sleigh, motorcycle clubs from all over East Texas converged on Outlaws bar in Longview, to help with the Truman Smith Toy Run.

“Everybody pitched in. We had people from everywhere wanting to help our children this year. All of our angels were adopted,” said Outlaw’s owner Melissa Lynn Kelly.

Even though Covid has knocked out many traditional holiday events, they were determined to go on with the toy run.

“People started bringing gifts, making donations. We were not going to let this go by without us being there to help those children,” Kelly said.

Through donation and purchase, 500 gifts were purchased for 88 kids at Truman Smith children’s care center.

Over 100 motorcycles joined in the caravan to the childcare center, and though they couldn’t go inside and see the kids, their mission was carried out.

“We understand the challenge of COVID with all the isolation. We still are going to have Christmas; it’s just going to be modified,” said Truman Smith nurse Steffanie Stevenson. “We are just so blessed to have the nurse community reaching out and still do this even though it’s been difficult times.”

“It feels great - 100 percent great. It’s something that’s got to be done for the kids,” said toy run rider Thomas Johnson.

Although the riders couldn’t see the children, they hope this brings joy to their season.

“If we could just get one smile out of one of them, it’s all been worth it,” Kelly said.

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