This year marks the 19th anniversary of the Cookson Hills Toy Run, a 20-mile trek in December that begins at the Veterans Memorial Park and Museum in Tampa and ends at Evans Park, the public space adjacent to Burnett Middle School.
For 19 years Sheri and Bill Brown have been organizing, running and advertising the event that calls upon motorcyclists to ride bearing holiday gifts in a show of compassionate solidarity for special needs people of all ages and now, as well, seniors, veterans with no family and the “forgotten children” of East Hillsborough County.
“This is the first toy run I’ve ever done, where you give the toys directly to the children and you get to see the smiles on their faces as they open up their gifts,” said Arthur Lund, at the 2011 toy run.
For the Browns it is a labor of love and each year becomes a little bit more taxing to pull off, and especially so over the past few years of economic unrest. This past year, Sheri Brown said, she and her husband almost lost their own money on the venture, and she doesn’t want to feel that stretched again.
That’s why this year a raffle will be held at the Dec. 2 toy run to benefit not only the Cookson Hills Toy Run, but also the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, the Emergency Care Help Organization (ECHO) in Brandon, schools in the Greater Brandon area and other charities.
Brown announced the particulars of the drawing at the June 14 meeting of the Greater Seffner Area Chamber of Commerce.
The following items are being raffled off:
- Abraham Lincoln Limited Edition Henry Repeating Rifle, No. AL064 / $10 per raffle ticket / Strictly limited edition of only 250 worldwide. / Registry numbers, 1-250, unique to this edition, with the prefix "AL" for "Abraham Lincoln." / Winner must pass a background investigation. Should that not happen, another ticket will be drawn. / Rifle transfer through Patriot Arms in Brandon, at 221 East Brandon Blvd. / Estimated value: $4,995 (American Historical Foundation).
- Hand-Crocheted American Flag / $2 per raffle ticket / Crafted by a loyal "Knight in Shining Armour (Love)." / Estimated value: $225.
- Stainless Steel BBQ Charcoal Grill and Smoker / $5 per raffle ticket / Made and donated by Buccaneer Sheet Metal Fabricators / Estimated value: $900.
- $200 in LOTTO Scratch-Off Tickets / $5 per raffle ticket / 2012 tickets will be purchased in October for newest-available ticket issue.