<img align="left" src="http://www.riderinfo.com/news_images/donna-and-ike.jpg" border="0" style="margin-right:6px" alt="Donna and Ike as Santa Photo" />I got together with Donna, Gumbo’s wife, today to talk to her about what it was like to organize the Lake County Motorcyclists Toy Run this year. I went to visit her and we sat down together. It was not long before she started talking the praises of those that helped her get the Toy Run done, those that attended the Toy Run and how grateful she was for the support everyone showed for the cause in donations and attendance.
You could see the satisfaction in her eyes. She knew she and the folks that helped her had pulled off a great event and benefit. They should be proud, I was there, and it was a great event.
So while she was completely engrossed in the thoughts of the Toy Run success, I asked her these questions.
Donna, The Toy Run is 11 years old, how long have you been attending the Toy Run?
Between my husband Stacy (Gumbo), and me, we have been going the entire 11 years. Being a busy Mom, I have only attended about six.
How many times have you organized the Toy Run?
This was my first year. But I've been dedicated to it and involved in helping with the planning of it for at least the last two years.
Who benefits from the Toy Run and why them?
The Kids Incorporated of Lake County and The Haven Spouse Abuse Shelter of Lake and Sumter County benefit.
Kids Incorporated is a great cause to help because many of their children may not get a visit from Santa without our help. The financial burden on this necessary community service is already too big. The Toy Run helps them meet a need for the children during the Christmas Holidays.
The Toy Run supports The Haven for the same reasons as well as helps out single women and women and their children through the Haven during the Christmas Holidays.
Who are the others that have done the Toy Run planning in the past?
Mostly Kim O and Dave O have held the Toy Run together for years, Mary did it too I believe. Ike is in there as Santa for years. Q helps with a place to serve the food after the Toy Run.
My husband, Bubba, Jay, Rachael, Jennifer, Mary, Aunt Ann, Nancy, and especially my family were a big help to me. There has been Ace, Becky too. I can't remember everyone, but I am grateful right down to the lady that helped cut a pie to the guy that carried something for me.
So you got a lot of help?
Yes, an awful lot of help! I wish I could name everyone.
Do you have sponsors? Can you name any?
Yes, there were many generous businesses.
Gator Harley Davidson
The Floor Center
I hope I got everyone, but I know I may have missed a few. I am thankful for everyone’s support of the Toy Run.
We got some stuff from Doug and cooking help from Ron.
A group of us women got together and had a yard sale. We had Nancy, Becky, Rachael, and some people that they know it was great. Beth gave us some donations. We made $1100.00 and the benefit went to the Haven. Thank you Leesburg Christian Center for letting us have the yard sale in your parking lot.
The Leesburg Police Department did, and has done in the past, a wonderful job escorting us. The Tavares Police, Eusits Police and Lake County Sheriffs Department were all a huge help. Thank you to all of them.
How long did it take to prepare for the Toy Run?
I started in October. But for 2007 we’re starting much sooner. In fact we have already been working on an idea or two.
How many people attended the Toy Run this year?
We had 243 motorcycles and you know there were cars too. I didn't count the cars though. I know the van was stuffed with toys and many of the motorcycles had toys on them. Suzanne Stevens said the turnout and the number of gifts was wonderful and thanks for everyone's for the support.
Compared to past years, how did this year compare?
I think it turned out one of the top ten at least. I don't know, but I have to say…
Editorial Comment: This may have been top 3. She's modest.
What were you hoping to achieve?
I wanted to see our community pull together and give some hope to those that are less fortunate.
What example does the Toy Run set in your eyes?
The Toy Run shows that anyone can help people in need. It's a simple concept, but not always obvious. The Toy Run is a group effort of people from several counties. The motorcyclists come together for the women and children of Lake County year after year. Hopefully others will see this and support those in need when they can.
Will you continue to be involved with the Toy Run?
Oh yes, most definitely. There will always be a need.
Where do you see the Lake County Motorcyclists Toy Run in five years?
Thriving and helping a lot of children and mothers. I see it making a difference in our community. The Lake County Motorcyclists are a family. We're not a patch; we're just a group of people that get together on this.
I have to thank everyone for all their donations and help. Their participation makes the Toy Run possible. We couldn’t do it alone.
Thank you all very much for your support.
Trust me when I tell you that Donna’s dedication is sincere. She has already started working for the 2007 Lake County Motorcyclists Toy Run.
I got a heads up on one of the new big deals she has going for next years Toy Run, but I can’t tell yet. Look for an announcement soon. This will be something everyone will be interested in.
Follow this link for a list of the Lake County Motorcyclists Toy Run 2006 photos.