RUMFORD — “Fifteen miles!” Tyler Steward yelled, pedaling his bicycle on the Hosmer Field track during Saturday's Holy Savior Catholic School Bike-a-thon benefit.
Twenty laps around the track equals 5 miles.
Like a stock-car racer doing victory laps, Steward proudly pumped his fist and right arm into the air, repeatedly yelling, “15 miles!”
The milestone, pardon the pun, meant the Holy Savior student had pedaled 60 laps to help 28 other children from the school raise more than $2,000 in two hours for St. Jude's Children's Hospital.
As he rode past, the pattern of back-wheel bicycle spray from riding in rain puddles on the track was distinct on his green, Holy Savior T-shirt, attesting to the many laps.
Four-year-old Orbin Honor of Mexico, riding a neon-green Hot Wheels bicycle, rolled to a stop beside Holy Savior seventh-grade teacher Michelle Ladd of Byron.
“I'm done,” the boy said.
“Honk your horn!” Ladd told him. “You've got to do a victory honk.”
Which she promptly did, squeezing the black rubber bulb of his silver horn mounted under the left handle bar.
“Oh, my gosh! You did 38 laps, buddy!” Ladd said after counting the punch-outs on his red laminated lap cards dangling from colorful twist ties on his handlebars.
“That's amazing! You are going to sleep good tonight.”
Each time participants completed a lap, a seventh-grader using a paper punch cut a hole in the cards that were designed by Holy Savior's six seventh-graders.
The six organized the event, designed materials, reserved the field, wrote press releases and contacted newspapers, contacted and wrote letters to the parish, and ran and participated in the Bike-a-thon, Ladd said.
“This has been a good experience for them to learn good skills,” Ladd said.
The children even researched the bike-a-thon charity — St. Jude's Children's Hospital — and made a presentation to the school.
Ladd said the 29 child participants — ranging from preschool to seventh grade — raised more than $1,200. School pastor, Father Philip A. Tracy, said he'd match whatever they raised, she said.
“Father Phil challenged other people in the parish to match it, so he'll be paying $1,000,” Ladd said. “I think it's our best bike-a-thon ever.”
Some adults donated money at the event and walked laps. The school will take donations for a week afterward.
Assisting Honor with safety gear and cheering him on each lap was his dad, Lester Swafford. The Kentucky native lives in Florida, works offshore in the gulf and returns to Mexico, Maine, once a month to be with his family, he said.
The event included bikes of every size, including vintage, like Emma Dupuis' modified 1960s purple Schwinn Slik Chik Stingray.
And then there were bicycles with stylin' accessories, like that of 6-year-old Alison Legere's Barbie Ride With Me Bicycle with training wheels. A handlebar sported a Barbie doll decked out in casual summer wear, riding a hot pink bicycle.
“She wants to do two cards,” memere Shirley Legere of Rumford said.
“So far, she's done at least 15 laps," Legere said. "She's pacing herself, alright. She just learned how to ride last week.”
Of the youngsters who participated and hosted the event, Shirley Legere said, “I think the kids are really involved in helping other kids.”
“They do this every year and it gives them character,” she said. “I think it's great.”
“It's going to be really quiet at Mass tomorrow, with all those crashed kids,” she said.