A cold, rainy night couldn’t keep an overflow crowd from filling the function rooms at the Run of the Mill Pub & Brewery in Saco for the second annual Community Bicycle Center silent auction. Last year, 125 guests attended, but this year close to 200 people showed up and spilled out into the restaurant’s lobby and waiting area.

The event raised more than $10,000 for the center.

“We’re pleasantly surprised with the turnout,” incoming board president Ken Koehler told me.

In addition to more than 50 silent auction items — including bike gear, jewelry and gift certificates — new this year were 25 pieces of artwork framed inside bike wheels.

“We have professional artists, outsider artists and hobby artists,” Andy Greif, executive director, told me.

“I think it is so great they were able to take something as simple as a bike wheel and fill it with art,” Kaleigh Duffy of Falmouth said.

“The art is fantastic and it’s a wonderful program to support,” Donna McAllister of Biddeford told me.

The Community Bicycle Center’s after-school programs teach middle school kids how to build and repair bikes, take them on group bike rides and engage them in community service projects.

Biddeford High School principal Britt Wolfe is one of the center’s volunteers and a big-time biking enthusiast. He commutes by bike to the high school each day from his home in Saco.

“I tell the kids I’m too sexy for my car,” Wolfe joked.

In all seriousness, Wolfe is a fan of the work the center does with at-risk kids in the community.

“It’s a great youth development program,” Wolfe told me. “It builds on kids’ strengths and builds their capacity. The center offers a lot of different skills, such as how to get along with others, how to set goals and how to deal with emotions.”

He also told me about a new program at the high school that is bringing students to the center to serve as mentors for the younger kids.

“It’s a unique program because it uses bikes as a vehicle to talk about life skills,” board member Douglas Hooper told me. “If you said, ‘Let me help you with life issues,’ they’d say ‘We’re all set.’ But with bikes it’s a different story.”

Board member Maureen White is one of the adult volunteers for the Friday girls’ bike ride. One ride earlier this year took the kids to a nearby beach.

“Before the ride one girl said to me, ‘I’ve never been to the beach,”‘ White told me. “Now they know they can ride to the beach and they don’t have to wait for their parents to drive them.”

Former teacher and silent auction artist Nora Tryon has seen the results the program produces firsthand.

“I know how important this program is with the kids I taught,” she told me. “Many just blossomed under the program.”

Just as important as the program itself are the community members who support it with their time, talent and money.

As Riley Albair of South Portland said: “We really have to show support for these organizations so they stay in business.”

Staff Writer Avery Yale Kamila can be contacted at 791-6297 or at:

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Twitter: AveryYaleKamila