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‘Silent Santas’ take to trails in Templeton Sunday

Steve Stiller never imagined 22 years ago that the last dirt bike ride of the year for him and his friends would turn into an event that would raise money to buy Christmas gifts for hundreds of children in Armstrong and Allegheny counties.

“When we started, it was just a group of us, our bikes and a Crockpot of meatballs. But now it’s so much more,” said the owner of Stiller Motorsports in Manor. “We never thought it’d turn into something where we’d have about 1,000 riders and serve over 1,000 meatball hoagies.”

Dirt bikes, ATVs and side-by-sides will take to the trails Sunday in the Stiller’s Toy Run fundraiser at Scrubgrass Village Off-Highway Vehicle Park in Templeton. A similar fundraiser for larger vehicles, such as four-wheel drive trucks, will take place at the park Dec. 14.

The approximately 24-mile course features trails for riders with all levels of experience, Stiller said. There will also be a bonfire and food for sale during the fundraiser.

Admission to the event is a $20 donation, or a toy of equal value. Last year, the event attracted about 1,000 participants, brought in some 600 toys and raised $8,000.

The group sent the toys to several organizations, including Armstrong County Children and Youth Services, the Bradley Center in Pittsburgh and the Salvation Army. Money raised was used to buy clothing, coats and other winter gear for children, Stiller said.

“We consider ourselves ‘Silent Santas,’ because we don’t really tell people where the toys came from when we donate them,” Stiller said. “It’s just a fun way to get a lot of people together to ride and do their good deed for the year.”

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or [email protected].


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