By Libby Hopkins

The Cookson Hills Toy Run has been a part of the Brandon community for more than 21 years. This event brings joy and happiness to those who are in need during the holidays.

“In 1993, we discovered a ‘need’ in our community,” said Sheri Brown, former director of the Cookson Hills Toy Run. “With some friends, we organized our first Cookson Hills Toy Run for the ‘forgotten’ children who would not have Merry Christmas memories, at Cookson Hills Christian Ministries Children’s Home.”

There were 18-children who received gifts at the first event. It was a huge success and as the event grew, special need individuals were included to enjoy the picnic and gifting. “All who attended were witness to many miracles,” Brown said.

Brown and her husband Bill announced in 2014 that it would be their last year of hosting the toy run. The Brown’s had health issues and felt it best to retire. Many people from the community came together to keep the toy run going. They also came together to support Sheri after Bill passed away in November of this year.

“This year’s run will be more emotional for a lot of us due to the fact that Bill lost his battle with cancer,” said Belinda Smith of the toy run. “Our goal is to make this year’s event a joyous occasion for the children and families as well as those of us who are keeping the run going.”

Jason Sorrow of Adrenaline Ink and his family didn’t want to see the toy run legacy end. Sorrow put together a small group of board members and volunteers who have worked diligently to make this year’s run a success. The run will take place at 10 a.m. on Sunday, December 6 at Brandon Harley-Davidson.

“We will have vendors and Scooter’s Saloon will have a brunch available for purchase,” said Smith. “There will be raffles and auction items as well.”

The backcountry bike ride will begin at 1 p.m. and end at 2 p.m. at Veteran’s Park where families will be waiting to receive their Christmas gifts.

“What has not been changed is the personal touch where the gifts are placed right in the children’s hands rather than dropped off where you never see who received them,” Smith said.

The Cookson Hills Toy Run is still looking for vendors and donations. Vendor spaces are available for $20. To be a vendor or to donate to the toy run, contact Smith at 245-6312. Visit www

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Libby Hopkins
Libby Hopkins has been a part of the Brandon community for more than 30 years. She is a graduate of USF with a degree in journalism. She has been a freelance writer for The Osprey Observer Newspaper since 2008. She also the Executive Director of Center Place Fine Arts and Civic Association. She is a dog mom to her rescue dog, Marshall. She loves being a part of the Brandon Community and she loves sharing positive news about our community.