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11th Annual Teddy Bear Run

Written by  November 30, 2004

The 11th Annual Teddy Bear Run to benefit the Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama, was held on Saturday, November 6. The event was put on by Riders Harley-Davidson of Trussville, Alabama, and the Birmingham Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.).

I spoke with Director of Operations, Roger Kinard, as motorcycles continued to pour in and register. He told me the first year they had ten bikes, and this year they had close to 500 who had registered. And not everyone who rode registered; like our friends, Mad Dog and Linda, who work at Riders.

Roger went on to tell us that they divide up the donations each year. They start by selling stuffed animals from Riders, which are taken to the hospital by the riders. People also bring stuffed animals with them, so there are plenty to go around. This year, proceeds from those sales will be donated to the 'Partnership in Caring Foundation,' which helps low income families and those who have suffered financially from years of medical expenses, pay the final expenses for a child they have lost.

Birmingham H.O.G. then returns to Children’s Hospital the first Saturday of each month to take more stuffed animals to the kids. Although this is a joint venture between Birmingham H.O.G and Riders Harley-Davidson, it is not a H.O.G sponsored event. It is open to anyone who wants to ride, and people come from all around the state, and a few from out of state rode this year. This is the second year for us to ride with them, and I think it's so cool to see all of those bikes loaded down with stuffed animals.

This year’s Grand Marshall - Miss Alabama, Shannon Camper, was there to sign autographs and take pictures. She signed a 100th Anniversary Harley Bear, which they auctioned off before we left. She then rode to the hospital in the sidecar with Riders' general manager, Tim Peek. She later said that was the first time for her to ride on a motorcycle.

The Trussville police led the group from Riders Harley-Davidson to the hospital. We rode two wide, and the line was so long, if you were toward the back, you couldn't see the front of the line. The motorcycle cops rode in front, beside, and behind us, to help keep everyone safe. The cops in each part of town blocked the entrance ramps to keep cars from getting on the highway until we had passed. Throughout the entire ride, people were waving from the side of the road, in front of businesses and on overpasses.

There were only two or three casualties along the way (Bears), which one of the motorcycle cops scooped up and brought in anyway. They were only a little road worn! Coming up to the hospital, bikes lined both sides of the road and also parked in front of the hospital so the kids who were physically able to, could come down and see the bikes up close. This was a really big deal for them. Their faces were all lit up, and our hearts were breaking. A few of these children were very sick, and some had gone through surgery. They all touched our hearts, and although we felt like this was such a minuscule thing to do, these kids thought Santa was there. Actually he was! We saw him there, and he does ride a Harley!

The Boy Scouts loaded down their wagons with toys and took them up to those who weren’t able to come down. They had to make several trips. Those who were up on their flu shots got to go up as well, but with the way flu shots have been this year, not as many people who would have liked to, were able to go up and visit the children. These children are so appreciative of all that comes from this ride, and I know all the riders who participate also gain a lot from it as well.

Story and photos by Leigh and Lynn Lilly of Birmingham, Alabama