Bike run helps Georgia Industrial Children's Home
As more than 165 motorcycles gathered in Byron on Saturday, the sound of the engines was deafening at times.
And despite the black leather, tattoos and tough look some may portray, appearances can be deceiving or misunderstood.
These bikers were participating in the Delmar Singleton Memorial Love Run to benefit residents at the Georgia Industrial Children’s Home in Macon. Previously called the Love Run, this is the 17th year the event has been held. It was renamed in 2013 to honor bike run organizer Delmar Singleton, who was killed in November 2012 on his motorcycle.
“I do it for the children,” said David Cooper of Macon. “I have been participating now about 10 years. There’s a terrible need for the children at the Industrial Children’s Home. ... We do this so these children will have a Christmas. If we didn’t do this, they would not have a Christmas. It’s a very sad situation.”
Bikers paid $15 each or $25 a couple to participate in the run that went from Georgia Bob’s BBQ restaurant in Byron to AP’s Hidden Hideaway on Broadway in Macon. Each ticket included a meal at AP’s plus live music. A raffle and an auction of donated items was held, which included such things as guitars, a TV, shop vac and golf clubs.
“Delmar talked me into this 17 years ago for the children,” Alice Padgett, owner of AP’s, said. “They are older children and nobody does anything special for them. He called them ‘the forgotten children.’ ”
Next Sunday volunteers will throw a Christmas party for the children at the home. When Padgett says that she sees some of the same kids at the home from year to year, “I often ask myself, ‘why are these children still here?’ ”
Cooper said it means a lot to see the expression on the faces of the children.
“There is no better feeling that you’ll ever have … when we ride up there and present the gifts to those children,” he said. “It’s starting to become a well known event, and because of that it has regional interest. … We are just trying to do God’s work.”
Even Santa joins the ride.
“I’m one of the few Santas that ride a motorcycle,” said Danny Carmichael, dressed for the part head to toe. “It’s a blast with the kids. ... Sometimes it just make me want to cry, it’s so special to be able to work with them and help them have a good time.”
His whole family gets involved in the run, and one of his grandchildren helps him get dressed in his Santa suit. But he doesn’t claim to be the Santa who lives at the North Pole.
“Santa is just a helper,” Carmichael said. “The real Santa comes on Christmas Eve.”
Janet Jester is one of many volunteers who help put the event together.
“(Delmar Singleton) did it for years, then when he got killed in the wreck there are just a bunch of us who volunteer to do this,” Jester said. “And we just kind of keep it going so that way we know those kids ... get Christmas.”
Volunteer Liz Thomas, who said Singleton was her soul mate, agreed.
“Delmar stayed in the Children’s Home, that’s why he was so passionate about doing this,” Thomas said. “We are just trying to continue his legacy. ... We take every penny we make and give it toward the kids.”
Organizers try to raise enough to give each child a $100 gift card, and they throw them a Christmas party. Sometimes there is enough money left over for the home to buy things such furniture or clothes.
Last year, the bike run raised a little more than $8,000, Jester said, adding that she hopes it raises about the same this year. There are 58 children at the home.
Besides AP’s, several other individuals and businesses participate in donating food, services or time, she said.
The Children’s Home is a residential program designed to served boys and girls between 11 and 21, according to its website. It works with youth who have emotional and/or behavioral disorders and are considered to be at a higher level of need.
“When you see those kids’ faces, it’s all worth it every year,” Jester said. “The biggest thing is they know they are going to have something for Christmas.”