From Camp Amigo, a Northern Florida outdoor experience for youngsters recovering from severe burn injuries, to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central New York, most charities supported by annual high-performance boating events serve children. That’s a credit to the event organizers who choose such worthy causes, but even more so to the generous members of the go-fast boating community around the country who support them.
Coming this weekend, the 2021 Toys Tour will attract participants from around the country. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
The annual Toys Tour, which will celebrate its 21st anniversary December 3-4 in Palatka, Fla., is among the longest-standing events in the performance-boating realm dedicated to helping children. The event’s cause and effect—collecting gifts through a lunch-run format for delivery to children in need by the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department—are simple and powerful.
And this weekend’s Toys Tour is shaping up to be the largest in the history of the event. With just 40 tickets remaining, the organizers are expecting to sell out by Friday. That will translate, according to Velocity Powerboats vice-president and Toys Tour, Inc., president Walt Braithwaite, to 125 to 150 boat and 360 participants.
Incorporated by Braithwaite in August, Toys Tour, Inc., is a nonprofit 501(3)(C) charity,
The 2021 event will be Braithwaite’s second as an organizer.
“This has been a passionate journey to be able to help hundreds of underprivileged children—some whom are unfortunate victims of domestic violence,” he said, “It truly is about the kids. We do this for them.”
Velocity Boats is the title sponsor of the 2021 Toys Tour. The Sanford, Fla., manufacturer has a long history of supporting the event. Company owner Scott McCormick plans to continue that tradition.
“The Toys Tour has a very special place in my heart,” he said, “I have watched the event grow from 12 Velocity boats back in 1999 into a massive boating community full of caregivers wanting to participate. I am humbled every year after seeing the excitement and joy on the children’s faces when boats stuffed with gifts pull up to the docks.”
Toys Tour founder Rus Matos (center) was the heart and soul of the event, which continues in his honor.
Marine industry sponsors for this year’s happening include Cigarette Racing Team, Mercury Racing and Mercury Marine, MYCO Trailers, Mystic Powerboats (a longtime Toys Tour backer), Spectre Powerboats and Tomes Landing Marina. The founder and president of the New Jersey-based Spartan Powerboat Club, Del Flores will preside over 2021 event as its master of ceremonies.
Like the Toys Tour, Spartan Powerboat Club events serve a cause for children—in its case the Autism Speaks organization.
“I’m all about charity events, especially for children,” said Flores, who owns and 39-foot Velocity sportboat. “Scott McCormick from Velocity Powerboats and I have forged a very strong friendship and I am extremely supportive of him and his efforts to keep the Toys Tour going. Scott and Rus Matos—the founder of the Toys Tour—were very close friends and Scott is honoring him by keeping this amazing event going.
Vessels of all makes, models, shape and sizes are welcome at the Toys Tour.
“It’s really an honor for me to be part of it and I’m very excited to see some of my Spartan Powerboat Club members participate this year like Michael Ciasulli, Chris Colson and Raymond Evans,” he continued. “Everyone in New Jersey always asks, ‘What’s the Toys Tour about?’ And I tell them they need to step up and head to Palatka, Florida, to find out and be part of one of the largest charity events in the country.”