Starting at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 16, 2017, hundreds of motorcycles, Marine trucks and a variety of other vehicles will gather at Cleveland Mall in Shelby to prepare for a parade ride down Marion Street, through Shelby and along Highway 74. At 1 p.m., it will be "kickstands up" as the group begins their journey of transporting toys and money in a parade that will ultimately end in Lattimore at Aaron's House, which is part of the Children's Homes of Cleveland County (CHCC).
The 29th Annual Windjammers Motorcycle Club's Ride for the Children is a unique Christmas tradition that provides Christmas toys for boys and girls who are in the Cleveland County foster care system, along with a monetary gift that will go to the CHCC. This money will be used for items needed by CHCC residents all year long - school pictures, class rings, clothing and sporting activities. More than $500,000 in toys and monetary gifts has been donated in the past 28 years.
"The Windjammers are a very generous and kind group of men and women who do wonderful things for the kids at CHCC all year long," says Margie Christopher, CHCC executive director. "In our world, Santa Claus dresses in leather!"
And Santa Claus does, indeed, participate in the ride each year, along with motorcyclists and others from surrounding areas, sometimes including drivers with antique cars and firetrucks. Everyone is welcome to join the parade or to be a spectator along the way.
Windjammer member Barnard "Barn Yard" Hamrick urges those interested to join in the ride and to bring a new, unwrapped toy to the event.
"It's an experience that you will never be able to forget," Hamrick says. "When you see those children's faces - it will tear your heart out. It is such a good feeling!"
Hamrick says the Windjammer Club is very grateful to the community for the support it has shown for the ride through the years.
"We wouldn't have been this successful without the support of the good people of this area," he says.
For more information about the ride, contact "Barn Yard" at 704-477-4959, or Christopher at 704-484-2558. For more information about the CHCC, visit www.chccinc.org or search for "Children's Homes of Cleveland County" on Facebook.
By April Hoyle Shauf
Special to Community First Media