This Thanksgiving, We’re Grateful For Volunteer Marc MacDonald

By Cathy Niland | 11.27.19

There are few people like volunteer Marc MacDonald. He was equal parts compassionate and ambitious, and endlessly giving. After a 30 year career in the Coast Guard, followed by a 13-year career in the private sector, we struck gold when Marc began donating his time to our studio in early 2014 and quickly became an integral part of our Bike Shop’s team. A self-proclaimed fixer, Marc loved tackling the most difficult bike donations, even taking frames home to do extra work after hours.

“One of the real challenges is that every bike part is like a puzzle piece and every manufacturer’s puzzle piece is different,” Marc explained in a 2018 interview. “I look at the bikes as a puzzle and I enjoy the challenge.”

Volunteer Marc MacDonald

One of Marc’s art wheels, made by adjusting the spokes to create optical illusions.

In his spare time, Marc also loved to build art wheels, adjusting the spokes to create unique optical illusions. He and fellow volunteer Vita Ray collaborated to create the Marc MacDonald Spoke Hotel for organizing and categorizing the wide variety of spokes found in The Crucible’s Bike Shop.

Marc passed away earlier this month, but his impact at The Crucible lives on through the lives he changed and joy he brought into our space, and now more physically, since the Marc MacDonald Spoke Hotel has officially been installed.

Volunteer Marc MacDonald

“Marc left a lasting impression with everyone in the Bike Shop,” Vita said. “It is wonderful to be able to have his memory be honored as part of the shop.”

We couldn’t be more grateful for all the joy and light he brought to our studio these past few years. Staff, faculty, and volunteers will forever remember him for his incredible dedication, encyclopedic knowledge, and willingness to help whenever needed.

The Crucible Remembers Volunteer Marc MacDonald

Marc was the perfect equalizer for the Bike Shop. He brought his wealth of knowledge and life experience to The Crucible with him every week, as well as his mild cantankerous demeanor. Helping out with every event we held from weekly Earn-A-Bike classes to Bike Fix-A-Thons, he was deeply considerate, often investing more time and effort into the department than myself. Then he would turn around and donate his volunteer hours to people who couldn’t afford classes. I always referred to him as my “West Coast grandpa” and would gratefully accept his help (as well as offer my own) on personal endeavors outside of The Crucible. He helped keep me in check and was always available to discuss “life stuff” when I needed an old wise peer’s advice.

I could go on and on about how Marc positively influenced me and many others but anyone that knew him is well aware of his attributes already. His strength and outlook on life in his last years was nothing short of admirable. He will always be in my thoughts and has deeply impacted The Crucible Bike Department. I will miss him.

Carmen Gambino, former Bike Shop Department Head

Whenever I see a bumper on the side of the freeway I think of Marc. For a period of time, we got into building Burning Man bikes in the Bike Shop and Marc came up with a way to rotoZip car bumpers to create fantastic decorative elements for the burner bikes. The octopus and warthog were my favorites—true works of art made by a guy who professed that he wasn’t at all creative.

I had imagined we’d tune up beach cruisers and maybe paint them wacky colors, Marc turned the project into a string of unique works of art, each bike better than the last. That summer, I enjoyed swerving off the freeway to jump out and collect the raw materials for his creations. I’m glad to have known and worked with—he was an amazing human.

Sudhu Tewari, Bike Shop instructor

Marc. A great, great guy. A great, great friend. We shared so much. I’ll miss him.

Howard Hirano, Crucible volunteer

From the moment Marc started volunteering at The Crucible he set a standard that I don’t know can ever be matched. His ability to take on some of the most unique challenges our Bike Shop presented was truly special. He brought a great deal of organization and stability that we really needed in the shop and the impression he left on those he worked with will be felt for a long time.

He came to The Crucible looking for a place that could fulfill his burning need to keep busy and I think we more than met that challenge. He dedicated countless hours over the past 4-5 years working in our Bike Shop that he became quite the fixture and really helped hold the shop together. He was such a humble person and never wanted recognition of any kind. He just wanted to complete the task at hand and move on to the next in line. His work ethic was impeccable and something I think we all learned a great deal from.

I will definitely miss my daily stroll to the Bike Shop and seeing the light on and for that split second wondering to myself who is in the shop right now that shouldn’t be only to turn the corner and feel this sense of relief when he’d look up at me with greasy hands and that big smile and say “hey Iz, how’s the little one?”

Marc, you will always be so much more to this community than a volunteer—you were a teacher, a mentor, our fixer, and most importantly a friend. You defined what giving truly means and for that we are forever grateful. Rest easy . . .

carla hall goodbyeIsmael E. Plasencia, Youth Program Manager

I feel privileged to be somewhere where I get to meet people who embody community and giving back in such a profound way. Our Bike Shop would not be the functioning space that it is without the hours of work and sweat that Marc gave to The Crucible. Rest well.

Natasha vonKaenel , Director of Marketing & Communications

I am so sad by this news.  Marc was such a wonderful person and a joy to work with in the Bike Shop.  He was a great help during the last mechanic workshops that I facilitated before moving away.  His enthusiasm around the work of the Bike Shop was unbounded, and his creativity shows in every corner.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE the spoke hotel.

Jeremy Cavagnolo, Former Bike Shop volunteer

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