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Leather jackets and teddy bears unite
Bill Conrad / Staff Photo: Dave Kellaway rides his motorcycle during the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County’s 20th Annual Teddy Bear Ride. Kellaway had 134 bears attached to his bike.
The sounds of motorcycle engines roared across Plano Sunday morning as hundreds of leather-clad bikers took part in one of the Metroplex's largest yearly rides.
The 20th Annual Teddy Bear Ride is one of the largest fundraisers for the Children's Advocacy Center of Collin County. The center, founded in 1992, is almost completely funded by private donations and has helped more than 35,000 children -- many of whom were victims of physical or sexual abuse.
One of the most colorful motorcycles was ridden by Dave Kellaway, a resident of The Colony who adorned his bike with 134 bears from Build-a-Bear Workshop. From Batman on the front fender to Iron Man and Captain America toward the bike's rear, there was a bear for just about everyone on Kellaway's bike.
"I am really adamant about helping victims of child abuse," said Kellaway. "My No. 1 priority is helping the kids. I can't donate millions of dollars, but I can do this."
Kellaway has participated in the ride for 15 years, but has only loaded up his bike with dozens of bears for the past three. He said he hopes his bears are able to put smiles on the faces of children who have undergone traumatic events.
The Advocacy Center received more than 2,100 bears on Sunday. While the bears ranged in size from 6 inches tall to 6 feet tall, all will be given to children who come into the center's Plano or McKinney locations.
"These bears are something to provide comfort and a little bit of peace in a kid's life," said Dana Bielamowicz, the center's special events manager. "The kid gets to pick the one they want. I think they take some pride and ownership in the bear since it may be one of the first times they get to say 'I want that.'"
An estimated 546 motorcycles participated, with a total of about 800 riders, Bielamowicz said, adding the event continues to grow in popularity each year thanks to the loyalty of its participants.
"There is always a big buzz in the motorcycle community," she said. "The people do this once and they are hooked."
Dozens of motorcycle clubs were represented, from members of Bikers Against Child Abuse to riders from the Patriot Guard. While some of the riders may look at bit intimidating at first, Bielamowicz said she has learned that appearances can be very deceiving.
"I think our mission touches their heart," she said. "Riders are some of the most sensitive, tender-hearted people you will ever meet. They are just big teddy bears themselves."
In addition to the center's main Plano campus, located at 2205 Los Rios Boulevard in east Plano, a new satellite branch is now open in McKinney at 1500 S. Central Expressway.
For information, visit www.caccollincounty.org.
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