Thirteen is an unlucky number for many.
December 13 should have seen the 13th annual Midlands Motorbike Toy Run roar through Longford town on its way from delivering toys and gifts to children in Mullingar Hospital's high dependency unit before a similar stop off at Bethany House.
Unfortunately Covid restrictions prevented this from happening this year but it did not prevent bikers and their friends from doing their bit to continue supporting these places.
The Freewheelers MC Ireland North Central Chapter , now based in their new Club House in Longford town, stepped in to run a motorbike raffle live on Facebook.
Club members Frank Kane and Billy Beahan, who have organised the toy run for the past 13 years got their club mates to work on a motorbike donated to the cause by Steve Arnold.
Following painstaking efforts to make thebike roadworthy and having raised €4,500 in a raffle, a cheque was presented to Teresa Gilchrist of Bethany House, live on Facebook, by Lenny Burns, National President of the Freewheelers MC Ireland.
The lucky winner of the bike was Mark Lohan, from Galway after the winning ticket was pulled out by official Midlands Toy Run Mascot, Linda McGee.
“It was my pleasure as National President of Freewheelers MC Ireland to present to Bethany House this cheque on behalf of our North Central Chapter,” said Mr Burns, who also thanked all those who supported the raffle, adding he hoped the monies raised would help Bethany House continue their good work into the future.
For her part, Ms Gilchrist said the support received from Freewheelers MC to the locally based facility was unquantifiable.
“The bikers have come to Bethany House every year for 12 years,” she said.
“Their visit not only brings a great lift to our service users but also to our staff and volunteers. Billy, Frank and their biking friends also raise awareness and much needed funds to not only make Christmas as special as we can here in Bethany House but this €4,500 will be used throughout the year on the women and children here.
“The bikers continued support means a lot to us in Bethany House . They never forget us and we will be forever grateful to them.”
A spokesperson from the Mullingar Hospital children's ward followed suit, saying excitement was already in train ahead of the event's 2021 equivalent.