A group of motorcyclists were given a blessing before they rode off on the annual Round the Mountain Toy Run during the weekend.
The Rev Albie Martin prayed for the 10 motorcyclists who gathered at Ngamotu Beach, on Saturday, to avoid a repeat of last year's accident in Normanby, which claimed the lives of Waitara's Kelly Reardon, and Gordon McKay, of Bell Block.
Waitara resident Bruce Hine believed heavy rain just hours before this year's event began had put off more riders taking part.
However, the clouds held back long enough for the bikers to journey around the mountain, collecting 500 toys for the Salvation Army.
"It was a good ride," Mr Hine said. "When we went past the accident site, we waved out at it."
The riders also met up with Mr Reardon's uncle who was helping out with a barbecue lunch in Hawera.
"Kelly lived with his uncle for three years," Mr Hine said.
Mr Reardon's sister Diane Taylor said it was sad Mr Reardon was unable to join his friends for the ride.
Although his death had been hard on the family, Mrs Taylor said they were trying to move on and not get "bogged down" by it.
Her emotions were also not as raw as they had been.
"It's easy to be paralysed by such a loss, but Kelly wouldn't want us to wallow in self-pity," she said.
Mr Reardon would often ring his sister for a chinwag.
"I used to talk to Kelly a lot, and we'd have all sorts of conversations about all sorts of things.
"But I know the phone isn't going to ring because Kelly isn't here with us and we're having another Christmas without him."
When police rang Mrs Taylor a month ago to say they had something of Mr Reardon's they wanted to return to her, she knew immediately what it was.
"He had that satchel as long as he had his Trident. There were spark plugs and tools in it," she said.
A little teddy bear was also among the bag's contents and the bear now sits next to a framed photograph of Mr Reardon.
When the policewoman said there was a teddy in the bag as well, "you could hear a change in her voice", Mrs Taylor said.
"We were both moved."
The accident had left her "very, very sad" but at the same time, she was very proud of her brother who faithfully showed up every year for the run.
"It meant a lot to him," Mrs Taylor said.
"He was a man on his bike but a boy on the toy run."
A memorial ride was also organised by Mr Hine on December 1 to mark the one-year anniversary of the accident.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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