ARCANUM — While the school is out for summer, kids look forward to spending their days giggling at the splash pad, doing cannonballs at the pool, or making sandcastles at the beach. However, some children are unable to make such summertime memories, finding themselves in hospital rooms, waiting for a diagnosis or treatment. In these lonely moments, a smile and a toy can make all the difference.
Motorcycle riders across Darke County (and beyond) are encouraging the community to donate toys for young patients this summer, in support of the “Children’s Medical Toy Run” to the Dayton Children’s and Shriner’s Hospitals, which will happen Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021,
Recalling his own childhood experience, Jason Claywell, a member of the Hirams Legacy, the newest Ohio Chapter of the Widows Sons International Masonic Riders Association, encouraged other riders to consider doing a special “toy run” for hospitalized kids. At the age of two, Claywell himself underwent treatment at Dayton Children’s Hospital for Wilms’ Tumor Syndrome — a rare kidney cancer that primarily afflicts children under five years of age. As an adult, Claywell still remembers the small kindnesses and smiles that helped brighten his days during his hospital stays.
“At Dayton Children’s, there were nurses and volunteers who would bring me Hot Wheels, and made me feel welcome there, at the hospital,” said Claywell. “That’s the inspiration….Now, we want to give back.”
As the vision for the Toy Run began to take shape, Claywell approached other members of the motorcycle riding community to see if they would be interested in helping the cause. Immediately, the support came forward.
“Jason came to us and suggested it, and we decided, ‘Let’s do this!’” said Josh Preston, president of Widows Sons-Hirams Legacy. “We want to fill an ambulance full of toys so that every kid in every room gets a toy.”
Reaching out to other area Riders Associations and their members for help, several groups gathered last weekend at the Hogg Shop, located at 3564 St. Rt. 49, in Arcanum, and committed to assisting with the summer’s collection efforts and unifying in September for the ride. These included the Widows Sons-Hirams Legacy (Greenville), Widows Sons-Brazen Pillars (Miamisburg), Hometown Heroes OH-1 (Bradford, Miami County), Hometown Heroes OH-2 (Union City, Darke County), Rhinestone Rebels, and Broken Chains JC.
“We want to help out the community,” said Chris Lovett, owner of the Hogg Shop. “We’ve hosted gatherings on-and-off for about six years, supporting different local charities. This is a great cause.”
Currently, the Motorcycle Associations are asking for local support in their efforts, inviting Darke County businesses and organizations to consider “hosting” a blue collection barrel for toy donations over the summer and asking residents to donate new small and medium-sized toys, books or games for children, ages 1 to 12.
The Children’s Medical Toy Run will take place Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, at the Hogg Shop, with registration from 10 to 11:30 a.m., and kick stands up at 12 noon. All riders are welcome. Those who want to participate in distributing toys to patients should call Claywell in advance of the event, per hospital protocols.
“I was one of those kids fighting for my life and have been in remission for 30 years now,” said Claywell. “I just felt like giving back to those kids because I know how much it meant to me.”
Questions about the event, interested in riding, or thinking about helping out? Stop by the Hogg Shop, call 937-564-8840, or email: email@example.com.
Carol Marsh covers community interest stories and handles obituaries for Darke County Media. She can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 937-569-4314.