WILKES-BARRE — Kids helping kids.
With parents watching on the sidelines, children on tricycles, training wheels and scooters were circling the parking lot at Small Wonders/Wilkes-Barre Academy Tuesday, all to raise awareness for bike safety and money for sick children.
The 30th annual Bike-A-Thon was held in brisk weather, sprinkled with sunshine at the education center on Stevens Road off Sherman Street.
Ralph Pringle, director of special programming at the center, said since the event first began in 1987, more than $100,000 has been raised for the St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
“The children are given a half hour to ride their bicycles as a reward for raising money for St. Jude’s,” Pringle said. “All of the participants go through a week-long course on bicycle safety. St. Jude’s provides the information for the program.”
Small Wonders is a day care center and Wilkes-Barre Academy is a certified school with students attending kindergarten through eighth grade.
One parent watching intently was Tara Gorski, whose daughter, Lily, age 2, was riding her Mini Mouse train bicycle. Gorski, 27, of Warrior Run, said she attended Small Wonders and Wilkes-Barre Academy and she participated in the bike-a-thon some 20 years ago.
“I’ve always loved this event,” Gorski said. “Lily wouldn’t wear her helmet, but after attending the safety classes and seeing her classmates wearing theirs, she now wears it all the time. I love seeing my kid do this event like I did when I was her age.”
Cappie Evers, co-owner of Small Wonders and Wilkes-Barre Academy with her sister, Cletta Salavantis, said they opened the center in 1978 and they have another facility in the Back Mountain. They have about 350 students enrolled.
“We wanted to do something for children,” Evers said, talking about the bike-a-thon event. “We chose St. Jude’s because they do so much good work for children.”
And, Evers said, her students learn bike safety, raise money for St. Jude’s and have fun while doing it.
“It’s great to watch this event grow over the years,” Evers said. “We now have children here whose parents also attended school here.”
Evers said the eighth-graders will graduate on June 1 and go off to area high schools. Evers said it’s always a sad time to see her graduates move on, but she said she is proud of the work her staff does.
“We try to teach the children, in their time here, to give back to their community,” Evers said. “The bike-a-thon is a good example of that.”
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.