By MADDY VITALE
Sarah Gaddy describes herself as just an Ocean City mom who works at a local convenience store, nobody special.
But to her husband, five children and the young people who enjoy riding their bikes throughout their hometown, Gaddy has become somewhat of a champion.
In response to recent incidents in which rowdy bicyclists rode through town and on the Boardwalk, prompting police to issue warnings that the actions would not be tolerated, Gaddy and other parents took a stand and organized a community event.
She and others want to show the community that the disruptive bikers were not representative of the many kids in town who just love to bike, do wheelies and other tricks for fun.
“I am not anybody special. I’m just a mom who is concerned for the kids,” Gaddy said in an interview on Monday. “I wanted to reach out and say there is a better way for police and kids to work together. We have a great town and community.”
Gaddy, along with a few other volunteers, organized a bike safety event that will be held at 4 p.m. on Wednesday in the parking lot of the Ocean City Sports & Civic Center at Fifth Street and the Boardwalk.
The program was done with the approval and assistance of city leaders, including the Police Chief.
The Community Policing Unit will make a bicycle safety presentation. A skills competition will include wheelies and freestyle, with gift cards as prizes for the longest wheelies. Pizza and soda will be provided by the 6th Street Pizza and Grill.
“I sat down with the Chief (Jay Prettyman) and (Community Policing Unit) Sgt. Jamie Fearnhead and Officer Jack Davis,” Gaddy noted. “They said it was great and they would be there.”
Gaddy’s 15-year-old son, C.J., unwinds by riding his bike. C.J., an athlete who attends Holy Spirit High School, focused on biking when some school sports were canceled during the pandemic.
“Biking became a really big deal for him when the pandemic hit. I watched my kids fall apart, mentally and emotionally, because of the pandemic. School sports were taken away from them,” Gaddy noted. “I noticed some of the local kids who would come to the house were depressed.”
Gaddy, 36, a lifelong Ocean City resident, said adults need to understand that the COVID-19 pandemic hit young people particularly hard. She does not condone any wrongdoing by some bicyclists; she simply wants the community to come together.
“The kids have been through a lot this year with the pandemic,” she said. “It is up to us to help them to come together as citizens and officers in the community and joining forces and doing this the right way.”
Gaddy said it has been “amazing” how the community has come together to help with the event, from the city officials to the police department to the local merchants who have donated items for the program.
She hopes the kids have a good time, showcase some of their bike tricks and the residents see that it is meant to be an uplifting, educational and entertaining night.
For Gaddy, it is personal.
“This isn’t just my home. This is my community. It is all about a positive, uplifting event. We are incorporating bike safety, but we are showing that as a community we support each other,” she said.