Toys 4 Tots Motorcycle Fun Run still brings people together

photos by Deb Gau
Santa Claus leads a long row of motorcycles traveling along Lyon County Road 9 on Saturday during the Toys 4 Tots Fun Run.

LYON COUNTY — Twenty-five years later, the Toys 4 Tots Motorcycle Fun Run is still bringing people together.

“Here they come,” one person yelled out.

As the motorcycles roared past on Lyon County Road 9 on Saturday morning, everyone waved.

The fun run has built up a loyal following over the years. There are motorcyclists who come back year after year, whether it’s for the good cause or the fun of the ride. But there are regular spectators, too — and they’re just as enthusiastic.

About half an hour before the Toys 4 Tots Run was due to start Saturday, a tractor stopped south of the intersection of Lyon County Road 9 and Minnesota Highway 19. The tractor was towing a trailer decked out with picnic tables and awnings. Once it pulled over by the Rolling Hills Wildlife Management Area, members of the Kesteloot family settled in to watch and wait.

They could hear the bikes a little before they saw headlights come into view.

The Kesteloots said they’ve been coming out to watch the Toys 4 Tots Run for years now, although “not always at this extent,” Dale Kesteloot said. Over time, it’s become more of an event for them, as part of an annual family gathering weekend.

“It’s fun, watching (the riders) all go by.”

Last year, Toys 4 Tots organizers recognized the Kesteloots with a traveling trophy for spectators of the motorcycle run. It was in a place of honor on the trailer Saturday.

“We thought it was gonna be like a little trophy, to put on a shelf,” Dale Kesteloot said. It turned out to be pretty good-sized, made out of motorcycle parts welded together.

The chance to get together, and to help a cause, was a big part of the fun for participants in the Toys 4 Tots Run, too.

“I like where the money goes. It helps kids,” said rider Jim Skarl.

This year, proceeds and toy donations from the motorcycle run are slated to go to Christmas programs in a seven-county area, including Heart to Heart in Marshall.

“It’s nice to have a purpose” for the Fun Run, said Gail DeSmet. Of course, the Toys 4 Tots Run is also a chance to socialize, she said.

Lee Seiler, one of the Toys 4 Tots Run’s founders, said meeting new people is always one of his favorite parts of the event. Those connections are part of what have helped keep the Fun Run going for 25 years, too.

It takes a lot of volunteer work to organize the event, Seiler said, “And there always has been someone willing to take the ball and run with it.”

When the Toys 4 Tots Run first started, Seiler said,

“I figured if it lasted five to seven years, that would be really good. For it to last 25 years, that’s pretty spectacular.”

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