Hundreds of motorcyclists turned out Sunday to make sure some needy children will have a better Christmas this year.
The Gulf Coast Chapter of ABATE of Florida, Inc., hosted their 17th Annual Toy Run on Sunday drawing around 500 motorcycles.
Riders gathered at the Santa Rosa County Auditorium and donated a new toy to various agencies of their choice like Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Hadji Shriners, Catholic Youth Services, Santa Rosa Kid's House, and Marine Toys for Tots.
Motorcyclists also donated $10 per rider to help programs like CHIPS Kids and other endeavors by the local ABATE group.
"This is a great day," said Gulf Coast ABATE Chapter President Russ "Dangerous" Dieterich. "There is nothing better than to help the kids and at the same time go on a motorcycle ride."
Click here to see photos from the Gulf Coast Chapter of ABATE of Florida Toy Run
Sunday marked the third year the event has been held in Milton and from Dieterich's indications it is here to stay.
"It is starting to catch on here in Milton," Dieterich said. "Before we would ride from University Mall to the Hadji Shrine Temple at about five miles per hour, but that is not the case now.
"We get to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Santa Rosa County and love it."
For the groups in attendance the need is great and the motorcyclist came prepared to fill those needs.
"This year we have received over 1,500 applications from our area unit," said Lt. Kenny Pierce, who is stationed at NAS Pensacola. "I didn't know how many to expect since this is my first event, but I definitely should have brought more boxes for toys."
Pierce noted it would be hard for many motorcyclists to fulfill their biggest request, which is a bike for many of the children in need.
"Every child wants a bike and that is one of our biggest areas of need right now."
Another group filling their list was Big Brothers/Big Sisters of the Gulf Coast, who are trying to help the littles.
"We do everything we can to help our parents with our littles (children in the program)," said Paula Shell, President and CEO of the local Big Brothers/Big Sisters. "We have many children on a waiting list as well and we are trying to match them with gifts as we get them with the help of our case workers."
Shell pointed out there are currently 380 in the program and another 180 littles who are waiting for a match of some kind.
As an incentive for a larger turnout, the local ABATE Chapter offered special event pins to the first 200 who turned out.
"We were out of pins in a matter of minutes," Dieterich said. "It really makes you feel good to help the kids who need help at this time of the year.
"We are glad we can be a part of this and at the same time raise awareness about motorcycles."
After the ride awards were given out for the best dresses Santa, Mrs. Claus, Elf, best decorated bike, and best decorated four wheeled vehicle.