Maryann Caldwell could light up a room with her smile.
The school nurse, who died in 2013, worked in the School District of Lancaster at the elementary and middle school levels for 14 years. She was passionate about encouraging the students to live active and healthy lifestyles.
That’s why her son, Common Wheel Executive Director Chris Caldwell, wanted to name his organization’s annual bike drive after his mom.
The Common Wheel held its Maryann Caldwell Holiday Bike Drive on Saturday at the McCaskey East High School gymnasium. While it was the organization’s fourth bike drive, it was the first year since Caldwell named it for his late mother.
The Common Wheel sells refurbished bikes and teaches adults and children basic bike maintenance skills out of its shop in Reservoir Park.
Its Earn-a-Bike program gives students bikes for free after they learn to fix and maintain them themselves. Throughout the year, the organization is also collecting 12-inch to 20-inch bikes for its holiday bike drive.
The bike drive works with seven area schools to identify kids who would want a bike and fit the sizing perameters. The following schools are participating: King Elementary School, George Washington Elementary School, Wickersham Elementary School, Ross Elementary Schools, Burrowes Elementary School, Thomas Wharton Elementary School and Robert Fulton Elementary School.
“Bike buddies,” or volunteers, guided families through the process of selecting a bike. Children also received helmets, photos with Santa and their new bikes, and were able to make license plates out of cardboard.
They also could go through the “bike rodeo,” an indoor course designed to teach bike safety.
About 60 volunteers from groups including Lancaster General Health and AAA helped out Saturday.
“We’re all about getting people on bikes and also developing youth,” Caldwell said. “This kind of culminates both of those things. It also fills the need for rescuing all of these bikes. There are 150 bikes here that, for the most part, they probably would have just ended up in the scrap yard, or even worse, just going to the dump.”
For Adriana Atencio, Common Wheel’s director of outreach and resources, the best part of the event is the kids’ excitement.
“Nothing is better than seeing the smiles on these kids’ faces when they get a bike,” Atencio said. “Maybe they haven’t really ridden a bike before, but it could spark their love.”
Joanna Galarza, of Lancaster, cheered when her 5-year-old daughter, Leilanny Correa, finished the “bike rodeo” on her new baby-blue-and-pink bike.
“You did it, my superstar!” Galarza said to her daughter.
Leilanny’s brother, 7-year-old Ross Elementary first-grader Jeresiah Rios, also received a bike.
“I thought it was pretty cool,” Galarza said of the bike drive.
Kids like Leilanny and Jeresiah are about the ages of those that Maryann Caldwell would have worked with, adding another layer of meaning to the bike drive's name. Caldwell is confident his mother would approve of the event.
“I think she’d be proud and have a big smile,” he said.