More than 1,000 motorcycle riders turn out for 39th Port Alberni Toy Run

More than 1,000 motorcycle riders turn out for 39th Port Alberni Toy Run
Motorcycle riders are seen for the 39th annual Port Alberni Toy Run on Sept. 16, 2023.

More than 1,000 motorcycle riders gathered to support a long-running Vancouver Island charity on Saturday.

The riders are participating in the 39th annual Port Alberni Toy Run, which collects toys for kids, as well as donations for local organizations, like children’s groups and health services.

The decades-old event has raised roughly $2 million for charity since it first began, and nearly as much in donated toys.

This year’s event runs for two days. It kicked off at Little Qualicum Falls near Parksville at noon, with riders heading down Highway 4 to Port Alberni.

On Sunday, the event will continue with a breakfast at Glenwood Centre at 8 a.m., followed by a Poker Run at 9 :30 a.m. and prizes, raffles and a beer garden closing out the fundraising event at 1 p.m.

Organizers describe the Port Alberni Toy Run as “Vancouver Island’s biggest motorcycle event.”

“Certainly, the weather worked in our favour this year. This event is weather dependent, if it’s rainy we might get 500, 600 people, but if it’s sunny like this, we might be breaking records,” said Alberni Toy Run chairman David Wiwchar.

Approximately 1,100 riders turned out this year to help fundraise for local groups, a little bit shy of its 1,400 rider peak that occurred during the 25th anniversary ride.

“Toys, money, support, it’s all fantastic,” said Wiwchar.

“With the way the economy is, it’s tougher to put a good Christmas meal together this year, so we’ll be giving probably a lot more people a helping hand this Christmas,” he said.

Another organizer, Marnie Grimes, says she’s happy to see more female riders coming out to join the event.

“When I first started there was about maybe 100 of us, and now it’s grown so that the women have a huge part in this,” she said.

“We organize it, we ride in it, we support it, and it’s just an amazing thing to be in the city and all the towns and stuff like that and hear these little girls say, ‘Look mommy, a girl on a bike,’” she said.

“It just gives them that – so they know they can do it when they grow up.”

With files from CHEK’s Dean Stoltz and Skye Ryan

Adam ChanAdam Chan

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