Michael Bergen Fall Night Train Run 2017 Interview
In Kansas City, Santa Claus rides a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, and many of his elves sport beards and wear Harley t-shirts.
For the past 29 years, Exide assembly operator Michael Bergen has teamed up with his motorcycle-riding friends to ensure that thousands of disadvantaged children in the Kansas City area receive presents and are able to have a Merry Christmas.
Twice a year - in the spring and fall- "Michael Bergen's Night Train Toy Run" of motorcycle riders travels through the Kansas city area, collecting toy donations for the upcoming holiday season. Then, during several nights in November and December, Bergen and has band of bikers set up Santa's workshop in local restaurants for gift-wrapping parties.
Bergen readily admits that a room full of Harley-Davidson riders gift-wrapping dolls and other toys is a strange sight. But by the end of the night, countless restaurant patrons - total strangers - join in to help bring some holiday cheer to local children.
"I started doing this many years ago after the City Union Mission here in Kansas City was robbed just before Christmas," Bergen said. "My friends and I donated some money to help them with Christmas, then six months later we did our first motorcycle run to collect toys and donations."
One year later, Bergen actually donned a Santa costume and helped deliver the gifts to children at a Head Start program in a particular disadvantaged community. "The lady who ran the Head Start program was crying with happiness, but the kids weren't asking for toys - they where asking for a mom and dad." Bergen said.
Bergen has also formed the charitable cause Hands to Heart to increase awareness of the effort to provide gifts to disadvantaged children, With the help of his number -one elf- follower Exide employee Kevin Gardner, who has been an unfailing participant for more than a decade - Bergen expects to deliver 4000 gifts to such groups as the Red Cross, Children's mercy Hospital and local Head Start programs.
For his efforts, Bergen has become a local celebrity and has even been named Man of the year by the local United Way. But as you might expect from someone so generous, Bergen deflects praise that comes his way.
Instead, he is quick to point out that without help from people like Gardner and his other biker-friends, as well as the support of Exide's Kansas City plant, "these kids wouldn't have Christmas. My hat is off to them 100 percent," said Bergen. @BikersReport @BikerEventTweet #HandsToHeartsFoundation #NightTrainRun #MichealBergen #SlackerMorningShow101theFox #TMobile