Santa comes early for kids in need

By Ryn Gargulinski: QCS

Santa came early this year for some kids in Tucumcari. He also came dressed in leather and riding a motorcycle.

And it wasn’t just one St. Nick. Several dozen proverbial Santas, male and female, accompanied by a police escort, showed up on their bikes Saturday to bring early cheer to kids in need.

Children Youth and Families Services’ Veronica Baca said the climactic moment came when the American Legion Riders Association Chapter 9, sponosred by the Arch Fitzsimmons Post 19 at Conchas, and one rider from Logan Post 77 rolled into their vicinity to donate gifts and food to the organization’s foster children. “They helped us tremendously,” Baca said of the 30 or so bikers. “We would like to give some recognition to this association.”

The Legion Riders, who said they are not a motorcycle club but a group of Legion members who uphold the Legion’s family-oriented stance, had been amassing the goods for weeks for this first annual toy run.

“We felt this was very successful,” said Dean Cooper, who serves as treasurer for the Legion Riders and vice president for the Mother Road Rally board. “We are determined to turn this event into a large scale project in the coming years. We applaud the businesses in Tucumcari for the many generous gifts that were donated as door prizes.” He said more than 50 people came to Mountain View Bowling Alley on Saturday for final support before the goods were brought over to
CYFS.

Area residents weren’t the only ones with a desire to donate. Prior to the toy run, the Legion Riders also met up with cyclists from the Mother Road Rally near the Route 66 sign by the convention center.

Here the Mother Road Rally donated $250 to the toy run, money they had left from their annual rally in June. Cooper said it was only natural for them to put aside some funds for the Legion Riders’ initiative.

“We are a non-profit corporation with a sole purpose of raising money for the youth of Tucumcari,” Cooper said. “Last year’s rally was successful with close to 2,000 riders attending, enjoying the festivities and spending money in Tucumcari.”

He said the process of building a successful rally to increase their donation base even more takes about five to seven years and they are already seeing the growth.

“The board members envision the Mother Road Rally growing to 20,000 to 30,000 participants in the next five to 10 years and that’s why we feel it’s important to gain the support of the people and businesses in the Tucumcari area,” he said.