Hundreds ride for charity

More than 200 motorcyclists rode from Papamoa Plaza to Tauranga Hospital today as part of their fundraising event for the TECT rescue helicopter and St. John Ambulance.

Organised by the Tauranga Ulysses Motorcycle Club, the ‘toy run' also brought some surprise gifts for the kids in the children's ward.

The ride is in its 26th year, and club president Marius Swanepoel says the turnout was great.

“I think we had about 206 riders today, although they weren't all members of the club. We had motorcyclists from all over, including one guy who was up here on holiday from Alexandra, heard about the toy run on the radio, and decided to join us.”

Fundraising comes chiefly from the riders themselves, who purchase toy run badges for $10.

“All the riders who register get a badge and go into a spot-prize draw. We also ask people to bring educational toys and soft toys for the children's ward at Tauranga Hospital.”

Additionally, Papamoa Plaza hosted a sausage sizzle at the start of the ride, run by the girls' indoor hockey club, which goes towards the charity contribution.

“Whatever profit we make, two-thirds goes to the rescue helicopter, and a third to St. John Ambulance,” says Marius.

The club wasn't short on toys when they arrived, either.

“The whole back of the TECT rescue helicopter Ute was full of toys. Once we finished our prize giving and activities today, some of our members went up to the children's ward with the hospital CEO and dished out some toys at random. From our perspective, that's the immediate reward, because these little kids don't even expect it.”

Today was also an opportunity for the public to come and meet members of both the TECT rescue helicopter crew and St. John Ambulance, as well as win a flight in the helicopter.

More than 200 riders participated.

Martin Simpson with his son Joseph (3) checking out the rescue helicopter.

L-R: Lisa Sarsfield, Pearl Sarsfield, Lachlan Bustard, Tayla Holton, Mikayla Kaye, and Amber Treadaway, all from the Tauranga youth division of St. John.

Tauranga Land Search and Rescue members Karl Ruby, Nick Ruby, and Russell Christian.