For the price of an unwrapped toy, the eighth annual Echo Toy Run will give riders and drivers a chance to give back to the community.

The motorcycle ride began eight years ago when an Echo business owner wanted to do something for the community. Al Sells volunteered to set up a toy donation drive, and he has been organizing the Echo Toy Run ever since.

“I’ve been on several rides like this, so we decided to start one here,” he said, admitting he never expected the ride to continue more than a few years. “People seem to really enjoy it. They ask if we’re doing it again next year, so I keep putting it on. It’s a good thing for the community.”

To participate in the run, riders meet on Main Street in Echo on Saturday, Dec. 3 with a new, unwrapped toy. Sells said people will begin gathering around 11 a.m., and the ride leaves at noon, traveling down 395 through Stanfield and into Hermiston. The group will turn onto Elm Avenue, and the ride ends at Good Shepherd Medical Center.

“It’s great fun,” Mark Ettesvold, GSMC public relations director, said. “It’s quite a spectacle to see them all come in, with Santa hats and toys strapped to their backs, strapped to the motorcycle itself. We treat them to hot cocoa and apple fritters.”

Ettesvold said the donated toys are given to pediatric patients as well as children who wait at the hospital while family members are receiving treatment or in the emergency room.

“It helps take a bit of fear out of the hospital experience,” Ettesvold said. “Any toys that are not used (at the hospital) are donated to Christmas Express.”

An average of 90 riders participate in the event every year, but both Sells and Ettesvold said there is no motorcycle requirement to participate.

“I tell people if the weather’s bad and they don’t feel like riding, bring your car,” Sells said. “It’s not about riding a motorcycle — it’s about showing support for the community. I hope we get a good turnout this year, but it just depends on the weather.”

There is no registration required for the ride.

For more information, call Sells at 541-571-1820.

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