By Russell Hixson
STILLWATER, Okla. — Dozens of leather-clad bikers roared through downtown Stillwater - their rumbling engines setting off car alarms and turning the heads of pedestrians.
This gang of bikers wasn't riding through town to cause trouble. They had a police escort and attached to every bike was a fuzzy teddy bear, a doll or another toy of some sort.
The noisy parade was part of this year's Cosmo's Toy Run. The annual event brings area motorcycle riders together to collect toys for needy children during the holiday season. This was the event's third year and it has been steadily growing.
Organizer and rider Rick "Cosmo" Oldenburg said this year's participation easily topped last year which saw 42 riders.
"Each year the numbers have been doubling," Oldenburg said. "It feels good to see it grow."
Will and Angela Kirn who both participated in the ride said they felt it was important to give back to the community.
"We're Native Americans so it is an important thing for us to be able to give back," Will said. "We don't have much but we can give back to the ones who haven't got much."
The run was started three years ago by Oldenburg. He and his wife Trish attend many similar charity toy events in the area and decided to start one in Stillwater. Last year, 42 riders transported more than 100 toys from downtown Stillwater to Lost Creek Methodist Church.
Toys for older children, pre-teen to teen, go to Cookson Hills Christian Ministries, while toys for younger children will be distributed by Lost Creek Church in the Stillwater area.
For Trish, the idea of bringing toys to children during Christmas hits home. As a child often the only toys she got during Christmas came from the Salvation Army.
"I was very thankful and I am so thankful now that God has blessed us and we are able to give back," she said.
Trish said the bikers and community members who drive their cars, or "cages" as bikers call them, have a blast at the event. They eat barbecue, ride and attend after parties at Lost Creek Church and Ell's - a nearby bar.
"It's about the bikes and the people and the camaraderie - it's wonderful," Trish said. She encouraged bikers and non-bikers to attend next year or get involved in other charity events in their community.