NORTH ATTLEBORO -- Neither wind nor rain nor snow can stop the Blackstone Valley Harley Owners Group - especially not when it comes to the annual Christmas Is For Kids run.
Despite the inclement weather, 16 motorcycles and 37 riders from the group assembled at the Harley-Davidson store in Pawtucket to kick off their 21st annual ride, determined to brave the elements for a good cause and bring a toy to be collected for needy children.
"As long as there's not snow and ice on the ground, we go," said Mark Legere, director of the HOGs. "(The wet roads) add a little danger to (the ride), and a lot of people don't like to ride in it, but everyone you see here said, 'I'm going to do it no matter what.'
"It's always great. I'd rather be on two wheels than four any day."
The ride has only been canceled twice in its two-decade history due to snowy weather, and although the roads were wet and slick, requiring a shorter route to the North Attleboro Elks Club, the bikers simply donned waterproof gear and extra layers of clothing and continued on their way.
As the motorcycles left the Harley-Davidson store and drove through Pawtucket at noon, some wet snowflakes were falling, and by the time the HOGs crossed the state line into Attleboro, the snow was coming down steadily.
Still, none of the riders seemed to mind as snow accumulated on their windshields and isolated pockets of sleet stung their faces.
The HOGs arrived at the Elks Club just before 12:30 p.m., greeted by Christmas Is For Kids chairperson Kelly Fox, who, along with her team, cheered on the riders as they roared into the parking lot.
Three bags of unwrapped toys from the riders were collected for Fox's non-profit organization, which matches needy area children with donors who distribute toys and other gifts for those children who might not have anything under their Christmas trees.
"It is incredibly heartwarming that all these people would come out in this awful weather to support us," Fox said. "The numbers, given the weather, are still wonderful, and it really shows the commitment this chapter has in helping us."
Joe Albert was one of the riders who braved the elements to ride to the Elks.
"You get to do two things: ride the bike and help the kids," Albert said. "It's a good way to kick off the season. Normally, I wouldn't (ride in the snow), but this is the toy run. You make do."