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A regional motorcycle group will deliver several hundred stuffed animals to the local hospital emergency departments on Sept. 17

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - The Teddy Bear Run launched 24 years ago and is still going strong.Next weekend, roughly 180 motorcycles of all types will roll through Prineville.

The mission: To deliver several hundred stuffed animals to the local hospital emergency department.

A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments (ABATE) is organizing the Teddy Bear Run, now in its 24th year in Central Oregon. Prineville is the second stop on a circuit that starts in Bend, passes through Prineville on route to Madras and concludes in Redmond. In each community, they will stop by the St. Charles Health System facility and deliver stuffed animals to the emergency rooms.

"Twenty-four years ago, members of our chapter came up with the idea to do this event, just for the kids in the hospitals," explained John Bauman, one of the ride's organizers. "It helps them feel better." He added that while kids are the primary target of their donations, it helps put the older patients at ease as well.

ABATE is a motorcycle group with a mission to "promote motorcycle awareness, education, safety and liberty through community involvement and legislative action." The organization was established in the early 1970s and the Central Oregon chapter is one of eight throughout the state.

The Teddy Bear Run was born out of humble beginnings. At the time it launched, 24 years ago, Bauman was an ABATE member. He remembers the initial run comprised of about seven people, who delivered about 25-50 teddy bears to area hospitals.

"It has grown through the years to what it is now," he said. "Now, we probably deliver close to 3,000 stuffed animals to the area hospitals with probably 180 participants."

The Teddy Bear Run will launch this year on Saturday, Sept. 17. Registration will begin at 9 a.m. at Wild Horse Harley Davidson in Bend.

"All motorcycles and riders are welcome," Bauman stressed. "We are not manufacturer specific."

The ride starts at 10 a.m. with stops planned at each community hospital. The group is expected to pass through Prineville between 11:30 a.m. and noon. The ride will conclude at the Loyal Order of Moose Lodge #323, in Redmond.

While the primary purpose of the ride is to deliver the stuffed animals to hospitals, the participants will be invited to join a Dice Hands contest where they can roll dice to win a cash prize. Cost to enter with the donation of a stuffed animal is $15 and $20 without.

"A lot of people do poker runs and they draw cards," Bauman said. "What we do is roll dice instead of draw cards, just to mix it up, make it a little different."

Riders can also enter a 50/50 raffle. For $10, they can buy enough raffle tickets to stretch from their head to toe. At the conclusion of the ride, the holder of the winning ticket drawn receives half the pot — the other pot goes to the ABATE chapter for the purchase of more stuffed animals for future Teddy Bear Runs.

"It's a good, full day," Bauman said. "It's fun."

The annual event has struck a chord with community members who have benefitted from the years of teddy bear and stuffed animal donations.

"We talk to people all the time who have gone into the emergency room and gotten stuffed animals," Bauman said. He recalled a time when ABATE members visited a bar and spoke with a bartender who had received a stuffed animal during an emergency room visit as a kid.

Those who want to catch a glimpse of the riders as the Teddy Bear Run rolls through town should find a spot on Northeast Third Street sometime between 11:30 and noon. And don't worry, they should be hard to miss.

"You can usually hear us coming," Bauman said.

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