Mitch Riegelhuth and Lori Brown teamed up with the Sierra Shadow Casters Motorcycle Club to give shiny bicycles, sturdy helmets and brand-new toys to about 300 kids at a very special event on Dec. 15 at G’m and Pappas Motorcycle Apparel in Coarsegold, with a lot of help from their friends.
As the day of the big giveaway approached, Mitch was a little worried that the weather wouldn’t hold — but when Santa rode up on a motorcycle sleigh to the gathering of wide-eyed children, a bit of chill in the air was outmatched by the warmth of giving hearts.
Last year, they gave away 50 bikes. This time around, close to $11,000 was collected through donations from people around the region, locally, and via an online account the Shadow Casters set up to fund the giveaway of nearly 200 bikes and 200 toys.
With Brian and Kelly Hillman playing tunes in the background, hot chocolate supplied by Robert’s Frosty, and coffee courtesy of Starbucks, the kids were amazed at the results of the group’s hard work and generosity. While this is the third year Mitch and Lori have organized the event, it’s the first time Sierra Shadow Casters have participated on this level as co-hosts — and Mitch says they were phenomenal.
“The children were just in awe,” says Mitch, adding that they were really excited when Santa Claus arrived with a motorcycle escort.
Mitch and Lori at G’Ma and Pappas are already thinking about next year’s toy and bike giveaway but, before then, a plan is underway for an early-fall backpack giveaway as local youth return to school. In the meantime, the bikes and toy giveaway was just the thing to really get in the spirit of the season.
“It was an awesome event. It tugs at your heart, when you see their faces and see their smiles. No matter what’s going on in their life — at least for that day they feel special. No matter what their home life is, at least they see they have some worth and somebody cares about them.”