By Michael Smith
As the Cookson Hills Toy Run prepares to celebrate its 24th anniversary next month, event co-founder Sheri Brown said this year’s event will return to the original traditions that have made it ‘the best-kept secret in Hillsborough County.’
Brown and her husband, Bill, founded the Cookson Hills Toy Run in 1993 after discovering a ‘need’ in the community. The Browns had to step down from hosting the toy run in 2014 due to Bill’s health problems. He passed away in November 2015 from pancreatic cancer.
This year’s event once again will be held at Veterans Memorial Park & Museum on U.S. 301 in Tampa, beginning at 10 a.m. on Sunday, December 3.
A live auction and raffle will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with motorcyclists going for a country ride at 1p.m. Volunteers will pass out Christmas gifts to the ‘forgotten’ veterans, children (newborn to 18 years old), special-need individuals of all ages and seniors in attendance at 2:30 p.m. The presents will be opened at 3:15 p.m. in the presence of those who donated them.
“Instead of dropping your gifts in a box, bring your family and friends along with your gifts, personally hand them out, then experience the true ‘Spirit’ of Christmas, the joy and magic when they are opened in your presence,” Brown said.
The day will conclude with a drawing for several special raffle prizes at 4 p.m.
During the past 23 years, Brown and her supporters have provided more than 8,000 people with Christmas presents and a barbecue picnic, creating wonderful Christmas memories for everyone in attendance.
She said the event is about “touching a soul, making a difference, and paying it forward.”
In addition to the presents and picnic, this year’s event will feature free cotton candy from the Egypt Temple Motorcycle Patrol, DJ entertainment, sleigh rides, face painting, super heroes provided by the Makers United for Children’s Hope (MUCH) Foundation and more.
Brown, emphasizing that 100 percent of everything received goes to the toy run, said that the event could not have made it for 23 years without the community’s support.
She still needs help with this year’s event. To learn how you can help, contact Brown by phone at 643-5758 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the Cookson Hills Toy Run, visit cooksonhillstoyrun.com.