A train of close to 500 bikers roared through Carson City Sunday in the name of charity.
Riders of every kind of motorcycle from Honda Goldwings to "chopped" Harley Davidsons showed up for the 12th annual Carson City Food and Toy Drive, an event designed to help needy local families through the holiday season.
With stuffed animals strapped on back, leather-clad bikers assembled at the parking lot at McDonald's in North Carson mid-morning and made their way up Highway 50 to Mound House where they feasted on a steak buffet at the Stage Saloon.
Carson City-resident and event organizer Denise Alvarado said the drive is like a Christmas present to her friends and the community.
"We're here for the fun time, food and entertainment," she said. "Why wait until Christmas to celebrate the holidays."
In the twelve years that she has been spearheading the drive, Alvarado said she has seen as many as 750 riders participate with gifts of toys and food. Donations are distributed by the Salvation Army and Advocates to End Domestic Violence.
She made a concerted effort, she said, to let people know the drive is not solely for Harley riders.
"Some things are sanctioned only for Harleys and it's part of the fun to have all kinds of motorcycles," she said.
Last year riders gathered at the Carson City Harley Davidson dealership
One Reno biker who came down for his second ride, said it's the camaraderie between motorcycle riders that makes ride events special.
"We're all different, but we all respect each other," he said. "It doesn't matter who you ride with."
Husband and wife Dale and Linda Sheffield from Sparks are an example of that diversity. They ride with a Christian club called End Time Riders Motorcycle Ministry.
"Everybody needs to hear the word of God and we administer that to bikers," said Dale Sheffield, wearing the club's colors. "We support each other and this is something neat to do for the kids."
Even bikers who don't know each other rally together in support, he said.
Event sponsors include Shoeman's Custom Cycle, Carson Custom Cycles, Reno Harley Davidson, Paughco, Iron Horse Machine Works and the Stage Saloon.
Lt. John Van Cleef of the Salvation Army said this is the third year that the organization has received gifts from the drive.
"Any of the families we serve that need financial assistance or are in a bad place this holiday season can receive the donated toys," he said. "Right now we have a 15-passenger van full of toys."