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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Biker/Santa inspires Club to Hold Toy Drive....

Thomas Berg may have looked like a big, scary biker, but his friends say he was more like Santa Claus. If Santa wore shades and black leather on his days off, that is.
Berg, a member of the Mortal Skulls Motorcycle Club in Bohemia who died in August in a motorcycle crash, spent the last several decades dressing up as Santa Claus every December.
This Christmas season, the members of the Mortal Skulls decided to continue Berg's legacy.
Last Saturday night, the club held the first of what is planned to be an annual Big Tom Berg Memorial Toy Drive at their Bohemia clubhouse. Another club, the Demon Knights in Bellmore, also collected toys for the drive, and the Mortal Skulls have been busy the last few days delivering toys to those in need.
"He was a gentleman biker," friend Heide Adler, 45, of Islip Terrace, said of Berg. "He was scary on the outside, but inside he had a heart of gold."
He had a real beard, and an authentic belly. And his friends say Berg, 59, of Shirley, had a genuine heart - spending his own money buying presents for needy and sick children, then delivering them while riding his red Harley-Davidson Road King.
Last week, about a half-dozen of Berg's friends and family gathered at the Mortal Skulls clubhouse that sits in an industrial section of Bohemia, their rendezvous place to meet and plan a course of action. The club was decked out for Christmas, with a Santa figurine standing next to the big-screen TV and a Christmas tree decorated with candy canes, ornaments and a large, wide-eyed skull perched at the top.
Adler said Berg, dressed as Santa, would visit children undergoing cancer treatment and tell them they were special, just like Santa.
"He used to take off his hat and show that he was bald. And he would put his hat back on and would say, 'Shh, don't tell anyone our secret. That's how we know we're special,' " Adler recalled. "It really made the children who had cancer, who were dealing with it at a difficult time, not having their hair, [know] that they were just as special as Santa Claus was."
Mortal Skulls member LJ James said it was an easy decision to run the toy drive in Berg's memory.
James said that the motorcycle club collected 50 large black bags full of toys, which they have distributed to food pantries and hospitals. The rest of the toys were given out Thursday by another motorcycle club, the Guardians of the Children, to families, hospitals and other child service agencies.
"There are things he found important in life, so we want to help continue those things and make sure that they're not forgotten," James said.