Feature Story                                                                                                 Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Heart Like a Wheel

28th Annual Fraser Valley Toy Run sees more rider support this year

Staff/Voice photos


Santa leaves the Sears parking lot at Cottonwood Mall in Chilliwack on the 28th Annual FV Toy Run last week. Below, Mayor Sharon Gaetz checks out one of the bikes.


here's something about the deep rumble of a couple hundred motorcycles in the morning that gets the blood flowing.


A river of chrome swept into the Sears parking lot Sunday as Fraser Valley Motorcyclists assembled for the 28th Annual FV Toy Run. Riders mingled over coffees while waiting to go. Some put on festive gear like Santa suits, others slung antlers to their handlebars.


It was a huge show of support from the biking community with all the beautiful machines strapped down with toys and lined up like soldiers for the Christmas Bureau.


The Toy Run was founded in 1986 by Barney Hopkins Sr. and his wife Lenore. A couple of years ago, it was struggling to stay alive, but even with lower turnouts they always managed to put between $6,000 and $10,000 into the Christmas Bureau till.


Lead bike, Ron "Smokey" Moore spoke with The Voice a few minutes before departure. He and friends have been keeping the ride going. Moore was elated with the turnout, and again this year, the weather was cooperating.


"By the looks of number of bikes we've got here today, yeah it's absolutely awesome. There's got to be at least two hundred there, and maybe a little bit more right now as I can see and they're still pouring in."


Moore began with the run in 1991 after joining Harley Owners Group (HOG).


"I started off with Stu Glassel. He was the one who got me going with this when I got my other bike in '91, and I've been at it ever since. It's been quite a pleasure actually," he said.


He talked briefly about the new, safer route this year. "We used to go up and overtop of Lickman Rd. and now we're going straight down Yale Rd to the Vedder Canal and take that entrance onto the freeway and that gives us a little clearance from all the transports and everything on Lickman Rd. It was brought up at the meeting."


"I've been doing this for 20 some odd years, why didn't I think of that?" he quipped.


Hundreds of riders assembled at the Sears lot Sunday. Below, local radio personality Glen Slingerland is also a Toy Run regular.


Chilliwack mayor Sharon Gaetz amped up the crowd asking how many were from Chilliwack and neighbouring communities.


“Thank you for coming on out today,” she said. Stan Nickel, my buddy, asked me if would come out here and say hello to you and wish you all the best.”


“I have to tell you how much this touches me to see you all gathered here today to exemplify what really is the spirit of Christmas giving, giving back, giving to people who cannot afford to have a great Christmas. You guys, thank you for being here today. I hope that you have a very safe ride," said Gaetz.


"You know the story... it doesn't look like there's lots of churchgoers here, for those of you who may have grown up in the church will know the story of Christmas and Baby Jesus and Three Wise Men coming bringing gifts to him to welcome him to this world. Bless them all. Have a great ride everybody and it was really nice to see you here in Chilliwack," she added.


Total riders is usually about 1000, but that's after Chilliwack hooks up at the Ag-Rec Building in Abbotsford with the Mission contingent that leaves from Liquidation World on Horne Street. Once there, they engage in some camaraderie over coffee and muffins and 50/50 draws.


One of the riders this year was the flamboyant Phillip Funnell. You haven't lived until you've seen the intrepid 78-year-old riding down the road on his jalopy.


Funnell was one of the last to arrive. A buzz rolled through the crowd as he putted into the lot. The bikers closed in around him for a better look.


"Howdy, howdy, I made 'er," he said as he jumped off the bike.


A yellowed smile shot out from under his gray whiskers.


"Come here, let me show you something," he said and lifted the lid on the pod trailer.


Inside were a foamy and a blanket. He reached in and pulled out an old yellowed magazine article in a plastic sleeve and held it up for the camera.


"And this too," he beamed.



Ron "Smokey" Moore, one of the Toy Run organizers, speaks about the new route and goes over some of the details of the ride.


Funnell lives in Chilliwack and rides every day. He's become something of a celebrity in Chilliwack with his world touring tales. Of course his baby has a name. He calls his 10-year-old Yamaha  "Baby Em".


"This is the third version. It's a new pod and old bike. The original one is on display in Maryland," he said.


Local radio personality, Glen Slingerland. is a regular on the Toy Run. For the last several years he's been on a Harley. But this year, he traded it in for a brand new Honda with twice the gusto. Kind of like an Indy 500 car on two wheels


"The Harley had 68 HP. This one has 130 HP," he told The Voice.


Mountainview Harley Davidson, at 44768 Yale Rd W., held a barbeque for riders who made their way back from Abbotsford.


So, everything was set. The chase trucks were ready in case someone broke down and then the biggest, baddest bunch of the most beautiful bikers you ever did see rode off for the kids.


See more photos below.


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