Some 71 children living in domestic violence shelters in Miami-Dade County now have toys for Christmas, thanks to an the generosity of bikers and supporters.
About 110 bikers from several Miami area motorcycle clubs collected about 200 unwrapped toys, gift cards and $1,000 for the first Flaming Knights MC Charity Ride to benefit the children and The Embrace Girl Foundation.
The event held on Sunday was sponsored by the Flaming Knights Motorcycle Club’s Miami Chapter and The Mahogany Grille Restaurant. Miami Gardens Mayor Shirley Gibson served as grand marshall.
The cash raised during the ride will benefit The Embrace Girls Foundation's after school programs and the toys were given to the children living in the shelters.
The motorcycle procession traveled east from the Miami-Dade police department’s Northside District Station, 2950 NW 83rd St., then north on 22nd Avenue to The Mahogany Grille, 2190 NW 183rd St., Miami Gardens, where the children got the toys and they and their mothers were served breakfast.
“We were happy to open our doors for this benefit,” said Larry Moradeyo, Mahogany Grille’s manager. “When it’s about the children, we are here.”
The Mahogany Grille provided the food and venue for the event.
The Embrace Girls Foundation’s founder/CEO and event organizer Velma R. Lawrence said the Flaming Knights had been interested in doing a charity ride to benefit her organization while she was planning to work with several local domestic violence shelters.
So, instead of her group giving toys to the girls in its mentoring program, she took the Flaming Knights up on their offer to help and suggested they collect toys and raise money.
“The children are away from home and in shelters but they still need gifts,” said Veronica “Road Queen” Gunn, Flaming Knight’s event organizer. “There’s no reason for them to go without when we are in the position to give. It was really easy to become involved in this event.”
The Embrace Girl Foundation seeks to enhance the confidence, self-esteem and self-image of elementary school girls aged 4-13, particularly those residing in low or very low income, working class and underserved neighborhoods in south Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
The foundation’s after-school programs are housed at Parkview Elementary School in Miami Gardens, Beacon Hill School in Hollywood and the North Dade Regional Library in Miami Gardens.
The Flaming Knights, founded in 1968, is one of the oldest motorcycle clubs in the country. Other clubs joining the ride included One Fist, Buffalo Soldiers, Down N’ Dirty, Thunder and Lightning, and Hell’s Lovers.
A 45-year-old woman, whose identity is not being published for safety reasons, lives with her daughter and granddaughter in one of the shelters.
“We are all in the same situation, victims of domestic violence,” she said. “I recently left an abusive relationship and my daughter followed. We both were mentally and physically abused. And, to worsen the situation, my daughter has a newborn.”
The woman described the shelter as “a safe place to be.”
“It’s a blessing to be out today at this event. After living a life that is negative and filled with fear, you have to become re-introduced to society,” she said.
Cynthia Roby ay be contacted at CynthiaRoby@bellsouth.net.
Photo: Miami Gardens Mayor Shirley Gibson and Larry Moradeyo, Mahogany Grille’s manager.