When elves wear leather
by Sparta Live | December 20, 2001 12:00 am
The long line of Harley Davidson tail lights on Memorial Highway on December 8 resembled a bright string of Christmas bulbs as members of the Cumberland Valley Harley Riders (CVHR) enjoyed acting as Santa’s elves.
Transporting over 100 toys and over $3,000 in monetary donations to the YMCA to assist efforts in their Wish Upon A Star program, CVHR riders braved the rain to discover hot chili, beverages and homemade desserts awaiting them when they arrived with their bundles of gifts and dollars.
This year marked the second annual Harley Toy Run, and CVHR members plan to continue their donations to the YMCA for many years to come.
Dan LaFever, owner of Dan’s Harley Davidson Service on Memorial Highway in Quebeck, said the idea for the Toy Run had been around at least 30 years, beginning with Harley riders in the western United States.
“It was mostly done in big cities, but there’s been so many bike lovers in small communities that we started supporting this county,” he said.
“This is an annual event for us to assist the community during the holiday season.
There’s over 100 members in the CVHR, and they’re the ones that put this on.”
Dan’s wife, Laura LaFever, said Harley riders always pull together when someone is in need, crediting CVHR members as those who helped her and Dan construct their Memorial Highway location.
“All the bikers helped us put up the new building,” she said.
“We were up and open in 30 days.”
“It was like a barn-raising,” said Dan, whose original shop was located in Rock Island.
“Everyone donated their time, which is an example of the excellent support within the biker’s community.”
Chief deputy of the White County Sheriff’s Department, David Orr, reported he had been riding motorcycles for 30 years, and his favorite thing was riding the back roads.
Orr said he enjoyed simple two-lane highways because more opportunities arise there for him to meet just plain folks.
“It’s relaxation to me to be able to do that,” said Orr.
“I just enjoy the freedom and independence.
There are several motorcycle enthusiasts among our local law enforcement, EMS and fire personnel.
We all look forward to assisting with and participating in charitable rides and events sponsored by the great people of the Cumberland Valley Harley Riders, and all our local motorcycle shops and organizations.
Everyone involved shares a common virtue; their heart is as big as their motorcycle.”
“Riding is my life,” said Brenda LaFever, who took part in the Harley Toy Run dressed as a colorful elf.
“It is the best relaxation and best stress reliever I’ve ever had.
The way I always tell people is I can go down the road ten miles and the wind just blows everything bad away.”
Freedom, independence and relaxation seem to be the three words most used by motorcycle enthusiasts to describe the riding experience but, according to many area residents, there are two more apt descriptions to add to the list: charitable and supportive.
“Most of the bikers are a big family,” said Dan.
“They support and help each other, and that’s why we get the positive support we do from this community.”
Dan added that were it not for the assistance of the Sparta Police and the White County Sheriff’s Department, the Toy Run could not have gone so smoothly.
“It was like we had the keys to the city,” he said.
“They did an excellent job of escorting us to the YMCA.”
To be a member of CVHR, Dan said there were only two requirements; own a Harley Davidson and be a safe rider.
“One thing the CVHR does is we ride in groups most of the time, and we emphasize responsible riding,” said Dan.
“We promote safety checks, and we ensure the members know how to ride safely.
If they don’t know, we teach them.”
Dan reported that almost $1,400 of the final donation came from CVHR collecting at Wal-Mart, and he expressed thanks to that organization for their community support.
“All we do is we enjoy riding and supporting our county,” he said.
“When we arrived on Saturday, the YMCA workers stood in the rain cheering us on.
They are the real heroes.”