FORT WALTON BEACH — Ninety-eight hours might not seem like a long time, but when it’s spent camping out on a scissor-lift 30 feet in the air in late November with only a portable toilet, tent and space heater to your name, it can seem like an eternity.
But radio personality Bo Reynolds of Highway 98 Country said it’s a price he’s willing to pay to help bring Christmas cheer to kids who otherwise would be without.
“My role is to attract the public to come down and donate bicycles,” Reynolds said. “This is the one time of year when we are asking our listeners to give, and we’re not asking them to give to us, but to give to the children of the Emerald Coast.”
Reynolds began his four-day scissor-lift hermitage Thursday at Uptown Station to kick off Bikes or Bust, Community Broadcast’s annual bicycle drive for Toys 4 Tots.
“This is our eighth year of doing this, and Bo’s second,” said Lisa Buchman, director of promotions for the radio station. “The coolest thing about this event is it’s not just a radio promotion, it is a community event. It’s an amazing weekend of stories and generosity and community, and that’s what’s so special about it.”
Bikes or Bust collected 1,506 bicycles last year, and this year Buchman said the goal is to double that number to 3,000.
Ashley Botelho, co-coordinator for Toys 4 Tots Emerald Coast, said there is a reason behind the heightened number of bikes this year.
“There is so much need for ourselves and for our neighbors, as you know with Hurricane Michael victims struggling as they are over there,” Botelho said. “We chose to give a portion of our bikes this weekend directly to the Toys 4 Tots Panama City campaign.”
As for Reynolds, he said he has learned a thing or two about scissor-lift life from his time aloft last year, and feels ready to face this weekend’s unpredictable weather.
“I learned to bring heavy sweaters and I learned to not drink as much water as I did last year,” Reynolds laughed as he motioned to the toilet. “It’s pretty shake and bake, I can tell you that, because when that wind picks up this thing is back and forth. I remember last year it took me about two days to get used to being back on solid ground.”
But all in all, Reynolds said he is excited to see the community come together to make a difference in the lives of the children on the Emerald Coast.
“I absolutely love when I see the bigger donors pulling in with their trucks pulling trailers with hundreds of bikes on the back,” he said. “Please give and give generously, and we thank you in advance.”