There arose such a clatter…

The riders behind the Truman Smith Toy Run have been doing it so long they’ve lost track of the years.
Is this the 28th time? 29?
After a fair bit of polling Saturday, the final answer is 33 years – for more than three decades, the leathered elves from Mom’s Biker Bar and Outlaws Longview Bar have been heartily hauling a hefty heap of toys to Gladewater for the patients of the Truman W. Smith Children’s Care Center.
With Santa and Mrs. Claus in the lead, the caravan arrived at the facility with a thunderous roar of hundreds of engines Saturday afternoon. The line of motorcycles stretched far down Highway 80 behind the year’s gift wagon, sitting low under a pile of presents.
They rolled into the driveway of the hospital and circled around the building, making sure all inside could hear the arrival.
“The kids love it,” Truman Smith Administrator Rhonda Rolen said. “They love the vibration of the bikes.
“The bikers love it as well. The interaction with the kids is just amazing.”
It’s the seventh time Rolen has gotten to witness the joyful event.
“Isn’t this awesome? I don’t even wear makeup because I cry every year.”
Santa soon dismounted and distributed hugs to the facility’s wheelchair-bound charges, greeted by huge smiles.
“It’s all about these kiddoes, it really is,” said Lynn Kelly, owner/operator of Outlaws, the gathering point for the parade of chrome and leather.
This year’s toy run drew about 150 two- and three-wheeled vehicles with as many and more attendees riding in.
“That’s about 45 percent more than we normally see,” Kelly said. “I think we have people from Shreveport, the Texarkana area, Tyler… we have a Dallas or two. We had a big turnout this year.
“The weather was good for us and everybody was in the giving spirit.”
The volunteers made short work of the mound of gifts, forming two long lines to hand the presents down from the truck, past the throng of Truman Smith patients and their family, through the doors and into the dining room.
Started by Nell Higginbotham – the ‘Mom’ of Mom’s Biker Bar –Outlaws inherited the effort about 11 years back.
“We continue to come over here,” Kelly said, happily.
Rolen’s grateful. About 50 medically-fragile children benefited from the run this year.
“A lot of the families live quite a distance. Some of them don’t have a lot of funding,” she said, and the parade of motorcycles and their generous riders bring a lot of Christmas cheer. “It’s very touching for everybody.”


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