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Severe weather Sunday disrupts outdoor activties

Published: Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012 5:25 p.m. CDT • Updated: Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012 10:12 p.m. CDT
(By Eric Schelkopf)
Heather Hicks helps organize donations at the Batavia VFW post Sunday during DuKane Chapter of A.B.A.T.E. of Illinois' 26th annual toy and food run. A tornado warning and heavy rain later in the day hampered the event.

A tornado warning and heavy rain disrupted outdoor activities around the area Sunday afternoon.

Among those activities affected was the 26th annual toy and food run sponsored by the DuKane Chapter of A.B.A.T.E. of Illinois. The motorcycle run started in Elburn and ended at the Batavia VFW post.

Volunteers scurried to take the toys and food that had been collected on the back of a flatbed trailer indoors before the rain hit. There were no confirmed reports of tornadoes touching down in the area.

During the tornado warning, those at the Oktoberfest celebration at the Batavia Riverwalk in downtown Batavia had to go into the nearby Batavia Government Center for shelter.

About 500 people were at the festival at the time, said Willi Gohs, president of the Fox Valley chapter of D.A.N.K., which organized the festival. He said the evacuation went smoothly thanks to the city of Batavia.

"Batavia can hang together when it needs to," Gohs said.

Despite the less than ideal weather, Janis Griffin of North Aurora dropped off some games at the Batavia VFW before the heavy rain moved into the area.

"I think it is a great cause," Griffin said. "And the donations stay local."

The event collects toys and food to serve families throughout nine local nonprofit organizations, including Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry Inc., Elburn Food Pantry/St. Vincent’s de Paul Pantry, HELPS Ministry and Aurora Soup Kitchen Inc.

For Tony Cikauskas of Montgomery, helping out needy families was more important than getting wet. His contribution included boxes of macaroni and cheese and a puzzle.

"I like to donate for the kids," he said.

Judy Kaenel, president of the DuKane Chapter of A.B.A.T.E. of Illinois, didn't let the weather bring her down.

"We'll never stop doing this," said Kaenel, a Maple Park resident. "This is something that's very important to the bikers of the county."

A.B.A.T.E., which stands for A Brotherhood Aimed Toward Education, covers Kane and DuPage counties.

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