Motorcycle club gives back with annual Toys for Tikes

Photos by Nic Antaya/The Herald
Eric Arvin of Huntingburg, left, Jason Uebelhor of Jasper and Clint Reuber of Jasper depart from Midwest Cafe and Market in Jasper during the Toys for Tikes event on Saturday. Dubois County Motorcycle Club and American Bikers Aimed Toward Education members delivered $7,500 in cash and toy donations to various community organizations in Jasper and Huntingburg. 

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

A steady drizzle fell across Southwest Indiana on Saturday morning, but that didn’t stop a group of bikers from strapping on their helmets, cruising across Dubois County and giving back to their community.

Despite the rainy conditions and stormy forecast, the low rumble and sharp revs of three motorcycle engines snaked from Jasper to Huntingburg as the Dubois County Motorcycle Club completed its annual Toys for Tikes ride. More members of the local nonprofit organization tagged along in other vehicles for the group’s big day of giving. Every year, it marks the culmination of their fundraising efforts.

“It’s a stigma that bikers are evil, bad people,” said member Eric Arvin of Huntingburg, who rode his bike in the rain. “But, if you really look into the nuts and bolts of it, they’re some of the most generous people out there.”

Sylvester Voegerl, chairman of the ride, said the group organizes fundraisers throughout the year that contribute to the roughly $7,500 in donations and supplies they dished out to five community organizations on Saturday. 

Clint Reuber of Jasper, left, Rosie Voegerl of St. Anthony, Eric Arvin of Huntingburg and Jason Uebelhor of Jasper depart from the Lighthouse Worship Center in Jasper during the Toys for Tikes event on Saturday.

“Things happen to good people that turn their life upside down and then they struggle,” said Faron Lasher, DCMC president. “And we don’t want to see anybody suffer. Especially at this time of the year.”

He added: “We want to be able to give back. We as an organization, we’ve been blessed to be able to do these sort of things, and giving back to your community is what we feel like everybody should do. This is our way to do it.”

A gun raffle, motorcycle poker run, motorcycle show, jeep show, barbecue contest and chili cook-off are all part of those dollar-raising efforts. Local donations and sponsorships as well as T-shirt sales also contribute to the group’s funds, which all go back into the community. The Toys for Tikes event has taken place in one way or another for 20 years.

Saturday, the nonprofit club donated $2,700 worth of toys, clothing and supplies to TRI-CAP. It also dished out donations of various amounts to other organizations. Lighthouse Worship Center, Freedom Reigns, the Community Food Bank in Jasper and the Shared Abundance food pantry in Huntingburg all received a piece of the pie.

Lighthouse Worship Center Pastor Bob Eckert of Jasper poses for a photo during the Toys for Tikes event stop at Freedom Reins on Saturday. "I'm called by God to do what I do," Eckert said.

Club members also met for breakfast at Midwest Cafe in Jasper and ate lunch at The Eagles in Huntingburg — a way for the bikers to support two local businesses that support them.

Shared Abundance received a $2,000 check from the DCMC when the caravan stopped at the Huntingburg food pantry. Their leader, John Tretter, expressed his gratitude to club members after Lasher presented the money to him. Tretter said the money will help Shared Abundance complete its mission and serves as a reassurance of how the community backs the organization.

“I promise you, every penny will go to helping people in need in this part of the county,” Tretter told DCMC members. “It’s this time of the year, we see some tough things. I’m sure you all can imagine. Every penny will go to helping those folks, help us to do a better job and do whatever we can to serve them.”

Bruce Carver, church treasurer at Lighthouse Worship Center, expressed a similar sentiment.

Faron Lasher of Ireland, left, presents a check to Freedom Reins board members Ron Thyen of Jasper, center left, Mike Hile of Ireland and Gary Salb of Jasper during the Toys for Tikes event stop at Freedom Reins in Jasper on Saturday.

“We’re just one stop,” he said after the church received a $250 check from the group. “We’re one of many stops that they’re going to take to hand out gifts ... it’s just awesome because they’re not only helping our cause here, they’re helping other causes in this community. And that’s what it’s about. Helping out in your own community.”

The DCMC is made up of approximately 50 local motorcyclists. The group meets the fourth Wednesday of each month at the Jasper Moose Lodge 1175, 2507 N. Newton St. Those interested in joining can attend any meeting.

Jason Uebelhor of Jasper leads a trail of motorcycles and vehicles through Jasper to the next location of the Toys for Tikes event on Saturday. "There's a lot of people that don't have what we have. There's a lot of people who need a lot and are less fortunate. If we can do our part, that's what it's about," Uebelhor said.



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