"It's why I'm here, and it's why I'm able to talk to you," said Smith. "If it weren't for Children's hospital, I wouldn't be here today."
The first five years of young Randy's life were filled with many different chapters, each titled after an illness or disease. At one time, it was asthma. Then a skin disorder called Jaundis, and a form of cellulitis which made his cheeks puffy and his muscles ache. Every Christmas, every birthday was spent at Children's.
Then, Randy turned a page in his story to a new chapter: health. For years six, seven and eight into today, Randy found a freedom he's still thankful for. He grasps a sense of that freedom out on the open road, riding his motorcycle.
"Ever since I was a kid, I dreamed of riding," Randy recalls. "I started on dirt bikes, then I was riding street cars, and eventually I got into Harleys." For nearly 30 years, it's been family and the biker community, not sickness that have shaped Randy's story.
Imagine his delight when, 17 years ago, Randy discovered the Toy Ride for Children's Hospital. The ride convenes at the Aurora Sports Park, where hundreds of motorcyclists gather with toys and gifts for children spending their holidays at the hospital.
"We never had something like that when I was a kid, but I know how much something like this can mean to someone who's living their life in the hospital," Randy said.
This year's Toy Run was the 24th annual event, although it was the first year motorcyclists were not able to ride into the hospital in procession because of weather. Instead, motorcyclists piled into Aurora fire engines and their own vehicles to deliver their toys at The Children's Hospital in Aurora.
Patients, family and siblings peeked through the windows of the hospitals lobby to watch as Randy and his fellow motorcyclists arrived at Children's with thousands of toys in hand. Then, the bikers walked up and delivered toys to each of the patients while sharing conversation and warm wishes.
Randy knows that moment could someday bring the ultimate gift: healing.
"I'm here because I was sick as a kid, and if I can bring one smile to one kid's face [on this day], that made my year," Randy said.
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