Latter-day Saint Motorcyclists Serve Cancer Patients during “Turkey Toy Ride”
Contributed By Kristi White, Church News contributor
- Motorcyclists rode 35 miles to bring gifts to children battling cancer.
- Church members shared messages of Christ and eternal families with participants and patients.
When you think of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the first thing you picture probably isn’t people riding motorcycles. But on Saturday, November 17, Church members in the Boynton Beach, Florida, area gathered to ride their bikes as part of the first-ever “Turkey Toy Ride.” To kick off the holiday season, Latter-day Saints teamed up with members of South Florida motorcycle brigades to bring toys to children battling cancer.
The event, hosted and organized by the Boynton Beach Florida Stake, featured Stan Ellsworth, host of the BYUtv series American Ride, as the guest of honor. His popularity among riders drew a large crowd of participants. More than 200 people gathered at the Boca Raton chapel to hear Christ-centered messages delivered by Ellsworth; Jason Gilmore, bishop of the West Boca Raton Ward; and Andy H. Lustig, president of the Boynton Beach Florida Stake. Then audience members sat astride more than 40 motorcycles carrying packages and rode 35 miles to the Kids Cancer Foundation in West Palm Beach.
About 150 children and family members were waiting for them. Upon arrival, the riders pulled in close, and the children were excited to see the massive bikes with presents strapped to them. The riders handed out the gifts and then patients, families, and riders alike sat down to eat a meal together.
Debora Gilmore, public affairs director for the Boynton Beach Stake, remarked that it was a delightfully unforgettable moment. “It was not possible to keep a dry eye. Motorcyclists possess the grace and grit that these little warriors need to face their trials. These motorcyclists brought the most amazing gifts and attention to these beautiful kids.”
One patient’s mother, whose daughter will likely not find remission in the coming months, remarked that the riders and message of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints uplifted her and filled a void. She chatted with Stan Ellsworth and his wife, Stacy, about the basis of the Church’s doctrine and how members believe families can live together forever. The message that no diagnosis or death is final was impactful and inspiring.
Boynton Beach Stake President Andy Lustig said, “I saw hearts of gold connect with some very sick patients. These men and women lifted others with their own culture and flavor. It is what our Savior wants us to be—an aid to those in need of comfort and camaraderie, in our own skins. We are taught to ‘lift where we stand,’ and this group, an assembly of many different motorcycle groups in the area, along with a few added Church members, indeed did that.”
Boynton Beach Stake President Andy Lustig speaks to participants prior to the Turkey Toy Ride on Saturday, November 17, 2018. Photo by Mackenzi Gilmore.
Turkey Toy Ride participants, including Stan Ellsworth (right), and children display gifts on Saturday, November 17, 2018. Photo by Rick Williams.
A woman reads a Church pamphlet from the back of a motorcycle during the Turkey Toy Ride on Saturday, November 17, 2018. Photo by Mackenzi Gilmore.
A motorcyclist with a child’s present attached to his bike rides toward the Kids Cancer Foundation in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Saturday, November 17, 2018. Photo by Mackenzi Gilmore.
Children and families wait outside the Kids Cancer Foundation in West Palm Beach, Florida, as Turkey Toy Ride participants arrive on Saturday, November 17, 2018. Photo by Rick Williams.
Stan Ellsworth of American Ride takes a photo with two Turkey Toy Ride participants on Saturday, November 17, 2018. Photo by Mackenzi Gilmore.
A motorcyclist rides toward the Kids Cancer Foundation in West Palm Beach, Florida, with gifts for the children. Photo by Mackenzi Gilmore.
Stan Ellsworth and other participants form a line as they take part in the Turkey Toy Ride on Saturday, November 17, 2018. Photo by Mackenzi Gilmore.
Pamphlets offering information about the Church were handed out prior to the Turkey Toy Ride on Saturday, November 17, 2018. Photo by Rick Williams.
A young girl plays with her gift as riders in the Turkey Toy Ride hand out presents on Saturday, November 17, 2018. Photo by Mackenzi Gilmore.