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Daughter develops event to honor father#8217;s giving spirit

Every December, parents go through the angst ridden struggle of deciding what to buy their children. Many parents want to be prudent while gift giving, buying practical presents, like clothes and books, that their children are sure to use.

Paul J. Lux was not such a parent.

Lux wanted children to experience joy in the holiday season and be the “important part” of celebrating the season. This meant children deserve toys. As a devoted father of four, grandfather of ten, and great-grandfather of ten, he lived out this principle with every Christmas that passed.

“Mom bought the necessities,” daughter Patrice Jones said. “But dad bought the toy. There was no question: toy first.”

In October of 2001, Lux passed away. Wanting to do something for her father, Jones began brainstorming ways that she could honor his memory and his principles and at the same time help those around her. The solution seemed simple: work with Toys for Tots in their annual campaign.

Toys for Tots is a program started by the U.S. Marine Corps in which disadvantaged youths are given toys throughout the holiday season. These gifts are made possible through donations from the public.

“It just seemed like a good way to honor Dad,” Jones said. “(It is) something Dad would have liked and supported, for children to have a happy holiday.”

However, Jones did not settle with the idea of having a toy drive. She began planning an annual event that would raise toys, support, and awareness for Toys for Tots and her father’s giving spirit.

Having volunteered at various philanthropic bike rides, Jones felt confident in putting on one of her own. In 2004, the First Annual Paul J. Lux Memorial Bike Ride was held in Suffolk. 14 riders came out, each with their registration fee: a single toy.

“Most rides you have to pay a fee to enter,” Jones said. “A lot of the riders like the idea of a toy for registration because they get to directly do something to help out.”

This Saturday, the event was held for its third year. The number of riders has doubled, and now local businesses like BikeWest, WalMart, Big Lots, Farm Fresh, Food Lion and Sam’s Club are helping Jones to give back. Each have donated either gift cards or goods for the ride.

There are three tracks for riders to go on: 10-mile, 33-mile, or 66-mile. The courses were designed to allow riders of all levels of experience a fun and comfortable ride. The rest stop is the Lux’s former home. There riders can take a break and enjoy granola bars, trail mix, chicken salad, and water. More importantly, it embraces the man who started the whole idea.

“I just like the idea that it’s mom and dad’s house,” Jones said.

The race filled three collection bins with toys for the drive, but Jones is slow to take credit for its success.

“It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s with the help of others,” Jones said. “The riders are the ones that are doing it. They’re riding in the cold and bringing the toys. I’m just putting it together.”

Jones’ plans for the event get bigger and bigger with each passing year. She hopes to design a Web site, where riders can immediately go on and register as well as involve more corporate donors. She also plans on having the ride the first weekend in November every year from now on.

However, one thing that will not change about the race is Lux’s heart and spirit, on which the ride was founded.

“He was just a good guy,” Jones said. “He was exceptional. He was a kind, generous man. They don’t make them like that anymore.”

lauren.wicks@suffolknewsherald.com