Tuesday, May 15, 2012


You may never meet some of the Y’s most important employees – our YMCA bus drivers. Thirty-five staffers log more than 350,000 miles a year driving day campers, overnight campers and tracking out students throughout the region. Their main priority is safety. 

Fourteen of those drivers put their skills to the test in the First YMCA Bus Roadeo on May 5. Organizers, led by Kraft YMCA Transportation Coordinator Cyndy Paciocco, based the Rodeo course on a Wake County School Bus competition. This year’s theme was “We’re in control. That’s how we roll.”

“As a whole, our drivers have a great safety record,” said George Allen, YMCA of the Triangle Vice President of Risk Management. “We wanted to celebrate their skills and give them a chance to spend time together.”

The drivers from the Alexander, Finley, Cary, Kraft, Kerr and Lee County YMCAs were judged on how well they completed basic driving tests such as left turns, right turns, backing up, offset alley, diminishing clearance, and the stop line. That’s where YMCA Transportation Coordinator Johnny Elliott was stationed with measuring tape.

“This is fun, but it also lets us know how they’re doing,” said Johnny.

The goal for a driver was to attain the lowest score possible. The sense of friendly competition was obvious as drivers made their way through the course.

“The ones who’ve driven tractor trailers have the edge,” predicted Bud Schlademan, a Lee County YMCA Driver.

“I’ve been driving a bus for 20 years in Wake County and never got a ticket,” exclaimed another driver. “That’s my test!”

“This is a fun obstacle course. You got to get your slow on,” said Cynthia Benjamin, a driver for the Alexander FamilyYMCA since 2003. “It's nothing like being on the road. Every day is an adventure.”

Mike Moody from the Finley Y won the overall competition and took the grand prize – the golden safety cone.

The drivers can’t wait until the competition next year. But, they’re even more excited about the start of YMCA Summer Day Camp in a few weeks.

“I could drive anywhere else,” said Cynthia Benjamin. “I love the Y kids. The best part is the kids.”

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