The 29th Annual Wayne Kash Memorial Toy Run pulled out from the WalMart parking lot in La Junta on schedule at noon on Saturday. Leading the motorcycle run were the state commander of the American Legion Riders, Steve Butner, biker name “Lunchbox,” and Jody Bracy of American Legion Post #168, biker name “Snowflake,” of Manzanola American Legion Post #168, organizer of the run.

The Wayne Kash Memorial Run has helped to bring toys to children throughout the Arkansas Valley for 29 years now, the last several years led by Bracy, who stepped in when Jeff Stevenson’s health deteriorated to the point he could not carry on the tradition. That was in 2012, and the WK Run has continued to flourish. Riders come from all over the valley now, and this year the head of the American Legion Riders for the state joined in the run.

The Toy Run is held in connection with another event, the Wayne Kash Memorial Toy Dance, always the first Saturday in December, this year Dec. 5. The dance is held at the Rocky Ford Elks Lodge and features a live band and an auction. The events are both modestly priced at $5 a person or a new unwrapped toy. The silent and live auction also bring in money to support the toy drive.

The Wayne Kash Memorial Toy Run and Dance furnish toys to make the Christmas brighter for families in Bent, Crowley and Otero Counties. The families are selected from lists supplied by a power company, county social services, and many churches in the area, but are carefully screened and vetted through social services or other agencies. In preceding years, over 600 families in Bent, Crowley and Otero Counties have been served.

“We help 500 to 800 families a year,” said Bracy.

Kash was a biker of impressive (and a little scary) appearance. He started the idea of helping children over 40 years ago by visiting school classes and letting the children climb on the motorcycles. He did not want them to think everybody who rides a motorcycle is a dangerous person. He wanted them to know there are good guys who ride motorcycles, too.

bmcfarren@ljtdmail.com