Students packed into the lobby of the George M. Leader building Wednesday at HACC's York campus to greet its president as he rode into town on a bicycle, neon windbreaker and all.

HACC President John "Ski" Sygielski is celebrating the community college's 50th anniversary in part by riding his bike to every HACC campus, thanking donors to the college along the way.

"It's a gratitude ride to thank those people who give us money to give scholarships," Sygielski said during his stop at the York campus.

Sygielski will trek more than 150 miles between campuses during his Miles of Gratitude trip this week. Wednesday, Sygielski traveled from the Lancaster campus to York, and then on to the Gettysburg campus.

Sygielski was greeted with cheers at the York campus, in part for his journey but also in anticipation of him awarding seven students with scholarships to the college.

"I was looking forward to seeing you when I crossed the Susquehanna with those winds coming at me," Sygielski said, greeting the crowd.

The president raffled off prizes including gift cards and bicycles, and also seven $1,000 scholarships to be used for HACC classes.

Rediscover HACC: The event is part of Rediscover HACC, a weeklong celebration tied to the college's anniversary. More than 80 classes across HACC's campuses have been opened for the public to visit. The week also has focuses on sustainability and wellness, Sygielski said. An avid bike rider in his spare time, Sygielski said the Miles of Gratitude was a way to visit and say thank you to community supporters. HACC's York campus started in 2003 as a small extension of the main college in Harrisburg. It now has 3,000 students enrolled in classes and continues to grow, Sygielski said.

And he has high expectations for continued expansion in the future: For every house he passed on his trek so far, Sygielski said he hopes at least one person will attend classes at a HACC campus.

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