Story and photos by: Ricky Jimenez Carrasco
On November 4th, the annual Coalition Toy Run was held from the truck driving school in Sunland Park to Cohen Stadium. According to Ryan LaBarbera, president of the Coalition, and Gracie Martinez, Coalition secretary, the run has been increasingly successful. This year, about 1600 toys were collected from the run by itself. There are still corporate sponsor donations and other collections to be taken into account over the coming month. With about 1000 riders signed up, there were almost 3 miles of bikers winding their way through the Upper Valley and over Transmountain.
There were many corporate sponsors that needed to be thanked, like Barnett and Budweiser, the City of El Paso and Cohen Stadium, and newer companies like El Paso Electric and El Paso Cosmetic Surgery. There are many who do much of the grunt work behind the scenes as well, like the dozen or so Coalition members who have already sorted and prepared the toys that will be distributed throughout the community by various agencies and MCs. Seed of Abraham, for example will deliver a portion of the toys to the MHMR center and German MC will be delivering to the kids of the San Elizario Area. A contingency of Coalitiion riders always show up on Christmas morning to deliver toys to the sick kids at University Medical Center. AVANCE has a share waiting for them and AYUDA-Sparks will have a big event to distribute the toys to the low-income area. “They recognize and appreciate the work of the biker community in their own community,” according to Gracie.
Planning for the next run always starts soon after Christmas. As LaBarbera put it, “We were fortunate to gain some new sponsors, and receive some more help from the area. We are learning with each run and getting better and better every time. All the work will be worth it because we know 5000 kids Christmas’ will be brightened.”