By Gord Bowes, News staff
Don’t be surprised to see Santa walking on the Mountain Thursday.
Actually, it will be Sergeant Santa, who is walking from Hamilton to Port Dover to gather toys for the “Thank You Troops Toy Drive.”
“Our goal is make Christmas a little easier on military families,” says Randy Young, presient of the Friends of Veterans Canada.
There’s a big problem with Canadian soldiers coming home with post-traumatic stress disorder and he wants to make sure people know about it and try to help.
“If we can avert that by a couple of presents underneath the tree and make somebody’s Christmas a little better, who knows, it could save a life,” says Young, 52. “I know it sounds dramatic, but it’s true.”
Dressed in a custom-made Santa suit cut to like a combat uniform, Sergeant Santa will be walking from Royal Canadian Legion Branch 163 on Limeridge Road East at Upper Wentworth down to Port Dover. Young is leaving at 10 a.m. Thursday and will pass through Mount Hope, Hagersville, Caledonia and Jarvis along the way. He said he expects to arrive at the Port Dover Legion in the early evening.
It’s a distance of about 56 kilometres. Young said he’ll be on foot most of the way, but is bringing a bicycle to make up some ground when he gets too tired to keep walking.
“It’s all going to be under my own steam,” says Young.
He’ll spend much of the next day ringing sleigh bells and taking gifts from the bikers arriving in Port Dover for the traditional Friday the 13th gathering.
The event is sort of a reverse toy run, he says. Instead of signing up for the run at the beginning of the ride, riders are asked to sign up at the end when they get to the Port Dover Legion. There, riders can donate an unwrapped $25 gift (a toy for a child up to age five or an educational toy or sports equipment) or $25 cash donation.
“Motorcyclists are traditionally very supportive of veterans’ causes,” he notes.
Sergeant Santa is the son of Santa Claus, says Young. He was in the North Pole Army and is now retired and helping out his dad. He says children who are son or daughter of a soldier will relate to it.
The Port Dover toy drive is the first of four events organized by Young and the Friends of Veterans Canada. On Sept. 22 there will be a classic car drive from Toronto to CFB Borden, on Nov. 9-10 there’s the Toronto Christmas Motorcycle Show at the Toronto Congress Centre, and in December there will be another toy run in Port Dover on Friday the 13th.
For more information, see Friendsofveterans.ca.