Riders roll into Elora for 16th Annual Robbie’s Run

They rode into town in the hundreds this year, with motorcycles lining Met­calfe Street and filling up James Street and the park periphery near the Elora Le­gion.

The 16th annual Robbie’s Run attracted motorcycle en­thu­siasts from around southern Ontario for the trek to the Elora Legion for lunch. And to deliver aluminum pop tabs.

“It’s crazy,” said Robbie Steele, for whom the run is named. “It’s really good. The more tabs we bring in, the more wheelchairs we can get.”

Steele uses a wheelchair, and it came courtesy of the El­ora Legion 16 years ago, and that is how a one-time collec­tion of pop tabs turned into an annual motorcycle run for Steele and his friends.

He was a motorcycle rider and he was involved in an accident and needed a wheel­chair. He and his family learned the Elora Legion had a program to provide free wheel­chairs, and decided to start collecting the tabs for one. After a year, they brought the tabs to Elora, with many mem­bers of the Milton Harley Owners Group (HOG) travel­ling along to deliver them.

Steele said he thought the first run was big, with 50 bikers. This year, they came from Milton, Durham, Scar­bor­ough, Grand River Re­treads Motorcycle Club, the Gold­wing Riders, and from Hamil­ton.

Robbie’s aunt, Louise Mus­selwhite, who is a driv­ing force behind the tab collection and the trip, said, “This is probably the biggest run we’ve had.”

She noted many of the riders meet at the Mohawk Inn, and the sheets used to keep track of bikers started at 200 and then the group ran out. The Inn allowed them to photocopy another hundred participant sheets – and those ran out, too.

Doug Louise was one of several men unloading packed pick-up trucks behind the Legion into the tabs room.

“A ton – at least,” he said of tabs in big boxes, plastic containers and small bags. “We’ve got two trucks loaded to the gunnels … some [even] in the back seat.”

Louise explained that this year three schools in Milton, Mississauga and Oakville be­gan a competition to see who could collect the most tabs for the run, and Musselwhite said this year the club also started a donation jar and presented the Legion with cash.  She did not want to get in­volved with cash, but the riders insisted.

The Elora Legion has been collecting soft drink can aluminum tabs since 1989. Jack Baumber was one of the two founders of the program, and he said on Sunday the Legion has now collected enough tabs and sold the metal for scrap to purchase 1,035 wheelchairs, ranging from specialty chairs to ordinary walkers – all of them free to the recipient.

“This is a feel-good run,” Musselwhite said, noting there is no admission except pop tabs. She pointed out the Legion is gracious enough to provide all the riders with a lunch.

This year, the lunch lineup was backed up outside the door, and the main hall was so packed that many took their plates outdoors to enjoy the sunshine.

Jaycox Harley, of Mis­sissauga, is a sponsor of the run.

As for Baumber, he was all smiles as the piles of tabs grew in the tab building behind the Legion.

“What can I say that I haven’t said year after year?” he said, while thanking all those who participate.

As for Steele, he was deter­mined to get an actual count of the number of motorcycles in town.

He said it was tough because plenty of riders come through the community that are not part of the run.

He added that some day he would like to find the person who in­vented the pop tab. He figures the person worked for one of the big cola companies.

“I’d like to ask him – or her – if he ever imagined … such a little thing could do so much when it’s collected together,”  Steele said.