The Rider Friendly Business Association in conjunction with Community Futures of Alberta & BC hosted this years Canada's MOST Rider Friendly Community Contest.

Port Alberni won this, our second contest and it was my pleasure to head out there for their Toy Run this past weekend...their 33rd Toy Run!

I arrived on Thursday and stayed with some friends, Trish and Quentin, and on Friday morning, I connected with David Wiwchar, the Chairman of the Toy Run Committee.

I set up my cameras and set about the task of interviewing members of the Toy Run Committee.
It's my favourite job, getting to know the hard working folks behind the scenes of an event.
I know how many hands it takes to do a job and do it well.  These folks, they do it very, very well.

There is a pride here, a quiet, yet fiercely determined pride.

The kind of pride that moves mountains.

Each person I interviewed spoke with such pride of their fellow committee members and the fact that they leave their egos and attitudes at the doorway of every meeting. These people come together to not just for this monster job of hosting a toy run, but they come together to engage their community and man do they do it right!

I can not wait for the TV episodes to air - there will be two of them I am pretty sure and in their own words these beautiful people will tell you all about the work they do!

Anyway, I spent the day interviewing and hanging around the Glenwood Centre where the bulk of the activities would be taking place. I watched with amazement as task after task was accomplished with military precision. We broke bread around 6:30 pm, corn on the cob, hamburgers and potato salad.

I went to my hotel, the Best Western Plus, Barclay Hotel. The committee however was there at the Glenwood, until well past 9 PM putting the finishing touches on the Centre.

The hotel staff got me checked in and explained the features and amenities of the hotel, I took my luggage rack upstairs, unloaded my bags in a really nice room with two double beds and by the time I took the cart back downstairs, the Langley HOG Chapter had rolled in and their parking stalls were all filled!

Gotta love a hotel that will treat their two wheeled guests with such extra courtesy.

I got up nice and early on Saturday, I wanted to catch as much of the feeling of the day as possible.

I was greeted at the Glenwood Centre by Robin and Tom, they were so upbeat and happy, Tom's daughter was busy setting up the kid's area while his wife was getting the free popcorn and candy floss ready for the kids.

You see what THIS community sided group called the Port Alberni Toy Run Committee has done, is to EDUCATE about and INVOLVE their entire community in the event.

The Toy Run supports SOOOOO many causes ALL YEAR ROUND!
AND it's free to ride in the toy run, but so many choose not to register because they don't understand that registration is JUST to count bikes.

The coffee and donuts are free - well, by donation if yah have...this is NOT a cash grab event folks. You buy dance tickets if you want to.
You buy Pork Buns with salads and corn on the cob if you want. (midnight lunch)

NOTHING is expected of you other than you to bring your heart, some toys and or a donation to the cause, buy a tee shirt...they are grateful to take what you donate and turn it into a year's
worth of support for the kids of their community.

The teens breakfast program is one they are particularly proud to be partnered in as it has helped the graduation rate to flourish.  They support parks and recreation by helping to host free swims, hot dogs and other free items for first night,  Easter festivities and Halloween too!

They support the Salvation Army and their Christmas Hamper drive and oh so many more non profits that help kids that benefit from what 30 dedicated Toy Run Members do all year round.

Every year, organizations that have benefitted from the fundraising done by the Toy Run Committee come out and volunteer for the toy run in return!

It is a totally a unified project that brings together many non profits, all supporting kids, all working together for the kids and you should see the way this city gets out and thanks the riding community for their support. They come out in the hundreds withs signs saying "Thank You Riders"

I can't say enough about this community, this crew of people...they are utterly awe inspiring to watch in action.

Later I arrived back at the Glenwood Centre where I handed off the trophy for "Canada's
MOST Rider Friendly Community" after saying a few words on behalf of Bob Ross and his beloved town of Two Hills, the first community to win our contest.

But that's not where this story ends....more tomorrow!

Until then, if you are blessed enough to be riding, please ride like everyone around you is blind and can not see you.

Belt Drive Betty
Edito & Rider

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