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6th Annual Fall Night Train Run

Written by  October 31, 2003

As the fall days grow cooler & the foliage turns into vibrant colors, motorcycles are gearing towards retirement for the winter months. Not for Michael Bergen, his season is just beginning.

On Saturday, October 18th, Michael Bergen’s Hands to Hearts Night Train Run was held, rain or shine. I know this to be true as I have brushed ice off my seat a time or two participating in his events. But no one seems to mind the cold temperatures since they know a smile and a dream will come true for many disadvantaged children this Christmas, as it has for the past five years. The entry fee for each rider was “as many toys as your HOG will haul,” or a donation. Used toys in good condition could also be donated.

Riders leathered up and left as a group at 5:00 pm with Michael leading 196 bikes. The run included stops at seven businesses, starting at the Triple Tree Bar & Grill in Kansas City, Kansas and traveling to KC’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill, the Outback Steakhouse, One More Tavern, PJ’s, Reichey’s, and The Pit Stop. We did take a detour through a Mission, Kansas upper class neighborhood and made quite an impression rumbling through there at 10:00 pm. Many people came out of their homes to see what the invasion was about and all the while we just smiled and waved. Thanks to the road captains for the run, everyone made it safely to each stop.

Michael Bergen’s motto is, 'If we don’t tend to the hearts of our children, then who will tend to the hearts of us when we are old?' He lives each day by this motto and works tirelessly with his wife, Jamie to host the run twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. The spring Night Train Run is a longer ride, as the weather is usually more cooperative. All donated toys are gift wrapped by volunteers and loaded into vans. These toys are presented personally by Michael to each child in the local Kansas and Missouri orphanages, in the Head Start Program, at Children’s Mercy Hospital and to victims being helped by the Red Cross. Some of the toys are shipped to Ashland, Montana to the Northern Cheyenne Indian Mission Program. Last year 2,464 children received a present, personally, from the modern day Billy Jack.

When I asked if he had a special story, Michael informed me that EVERY story is special. On one occasion when he was handing out toys, a young boy was tugging at his sleeve mumbling something. Michael leaned over to listen to the boy tell him that he hadn’t received a present before and thanked him. He hugged the boy with a 'your welcome.’ One of the caretakers of the orphanage witnessed this interaction and informed Michael that the boy had never spoken to anyone before. A small miracle was conceived. When the evening was over and he was heading out the door, the same young boy came running over to tell him once again of his appreciation and that he loved him. Michael could hardly contain his emotions and knew right then and there that he was making a difference in someone’s life no matter how small it may seem to others. To a child with nothing, it means the world; and these children mean the world to Michael.

The charity doesn’t stop there; he has also assisted the Biker Friends for Children with the construction of the Pamela Butler playground and is enrolled in the Big Brother/Big Sister Program assisting underprivileged children. Bergen adds, “I can’t do this alone. I have many friends, family and my employer, GNB Battery who generously donates money, toys and the time off for me to fulfill the obligations of a charity this size.” Michael recently lost his storage unit due to the property being sold. No problem, Barbara with Shamrock Storage stepped up and donated a space for him to house and protect the toys.

While Santa Claus retires in the spring until Christmas; Michael, an angel with a little rusty halo, is still working because angels never sleep.

Story by Kathy Plant
Photos by Cricket Phifer