Sunday, November 19, 2017
Events

Cookson Hills Toy Run continues in wake of co-founder's death

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After 21 years of providing children, veterans and special-needs residents with Christmas memories, the Cookson Hills Toy Run is changing hands.

This year's event, founded by Seffner residents Bill and Sheri Brown, is being organized by Jason Sorrow, owner of Adrenaline Ink Tattoos in Brandon.

Sorrow, who rides motorcycles with a group of about 1,000 people, said after three years of attending the event, he wanted to keep it going, especially since Bill Brown died Nov. 14 after battling bladder and kidney cancer. The toy drive will start at 10 a.m. Sunday at the Brandon Harley-Davidson, and the ride will end from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial Park in Tampa.

"The big difference is actual resources," said Sorrow, who hopes to help 400 children this year. "We have a board and three times the contacts and supporters. It's shaping up to be a good year."

The toy run started modestly in 1993 but grew into an event that attracted more than 2,000 motorcycle riders who bestowed Christmas gifts upon "forgotten" children (newborns to 18-year-olds still in high school) mostly from the Riverview, Gibsonton and Thonotosassa areas. The Browns' gift giving also reached individuals with special needs, seniors and veterans.

Sheri Brown said she and her husband invested $47,000 of their own money over the years to keep the event going.

"Every penny was worth it because of the memories we saw," she said. "For 21 years, we provided merry Christmas memories, and that legacy is changing. It's not going to be the same. I'm going to miss doing it."

Scooter's Saloon will offer a brunch buffet with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the toy run. Raffle tickets will be available to win an AR-15 rifle, $500 cash and $200 worth of scratch-off lottery tickets and more. Also on tap are sleigh rides, face painting, a silent auction and a DJ.

Sorrow invites people interested in helping to bring wrapped presents either to the morning or afternoon events, noting the age and gender of the gift recipient. Visit facebook.com/ cooksonhillstoyrun2015/ to find out more.

Contact Eric Vician at hillsnews@tampabay.com.

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