BEAUMONT — Christmas came early at Buckner Children's Village in Beaumont Saturday. The 28th annual 'Buckner Toy Run" brought gifts, Christmas cheer and toys to nearly 80 boys and girls in foster care, or who were recently adopted. The event featured a procession of bikers, 4X4s and hot rod Corvettes and Mustangs.
It's an annual anticipated event for lots of the abused and neglected children served by Buckner International in Beaumont. This year, kids were able to take rides on motorcycles and in muscle cars. The Beaumont Fire Department also hosed down the grounds of Buckner so the kids could enjoy mudding in 4X4 jeeps.
This years list of participants includes: Trinity Travelers Chapter of the Christian Motorcyclists Association, Tri-City Corvette Club, Wild Horse Mustang Club of Southeast Texas, Southern High Rollers 4x4 Club of Houston, Austin's Chop Shop and Beaumont Chapter of The Patriot Guard. Larry and Mary young also played a huge role in supplying the gifts and making sure they're wrapped for the kids.
The 28-year-long tradition began with a man, Dwayne Johnston, on a mission.
"The idea was to create an image for bikers that was good instead of people thinking that they were bad," said Mary Ann Johnston, Dwayne's wife.
Dwayne pasted away in 2016, but Mary Ann continues the tradition. She said she never imagined it growing like it has.
What Johnston enjoys most about the event is the annual reminder of the reason for the season.
"We read Luke chapter two, the story of Christ's birth, before Santa Claus gives out gifts to remind them to set a tradition in their heart," said Johnston.
Laura May is the Southeast Texas administrator of Buckner. She started 28-year-ago, when the first toy run took place.
"Our kids get to do things they've never had the opportunity before, ride on a motorcycle, ride in a jeep, ride in a corvette," said May.
May said these small moments make all the difference for these kids.
"It's so special to have something that shows them and treats them like they are important and so we get to replace with maybe some of the bad memories that they have with some really good ones," said May.
Good memories for both the kids, and the people that make it all happen.
"That's the highlight of the Christmas season, their face just lit up, they couldn't believe they got what they asked for from Santa," said Johnston.