The 13th annual Conway Regional Toy run is Saturday, and bikers and participants will gather at 10 a.m. at Landers Toad Suck Harley Davidson, 1110 Collier Drive off Museum Road.
At noon Santa will lead the way for a caravan of motorcycles, trikes and "cages," or cars, leaving the dealership for Conway Regional Medical Center.
In tow will be hundreds of toys for young hospital patients.
"Our saying is that no child should be in the hospital without a toy," said Steve "Painter" Polk, the event’s organizer.
Known as Painter to his biker friends, Polk wanted to start the toy run in Conway after seeing a hospital full of toys and games in California.
"I had a friend with a child in the hospital here, and I asked where the games and toys were, and I was told there’s no budget for that. I got my bikers together to start it," he said. "Our goal is to make life a little easier for a child in the hospital."
Stacy Patterson, nurse manager for pediatrics at Conway Regional, said giving a sick or injured child a new toy to distract them from the current circumstance is "an incredible moment."
"We walk in with a stuffed animal or something else to take their mind off of it. It makes a good difference in their stay," Patterson said. "It’s not a fun place to be."
Last year about 800 toys were brought to the hospital, and Conway Regional staff have been able to give child patients toys year round.
"Even though they’re for the pediatric unit, we give [toys] to patients in the ER and other departments where there are kids that could benefit," Patterson said.
Every child admitted to the hospital gets a toy as part of their stay.
Three hundred people participated in the toy run in 2012, organizers said.
Anyone can bring a toy, Polk said, even those who are not participating in the run.
Toys for the run can be taken to Landers Toad Suck Harley Davidson or Conway Regional Medical Center.
"We’re thankful for Painter and many, many bikers here who contribute to this run every year. It gets larger every year, and they do an outstanding job," said John Patton, hospital spokesman.
For more information, call Steve "Painter" Polk at 501-472-1628, or David Hawks at 501-450-0745.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1236, or on Twitter @Courtneyism. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)