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Murrysville Miracle Field project earns Franklin Regional sophomore Boy Scouts' top honor

Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review
Stephen Hiler of Murrysville, with Troop 208, sits on one of the handicap-accessible picnic tables he built for the Miracle Field in Murrysville as an Eagle Scout project on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013.

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By Amanda Dolasinski
Sunday, March 17, 2013, 11:58 p.m.

Before he purchased one plank of wood, Stephen Hiler considered every detail, down to the screws of the picnic tables he was tasked to construct.

After all, these were no ordinary picnic tables.They would become an integral part of family afternoons at Murrysville's Miracle Field for years.

Hiler, a Life Scout and sophomore at Franklin Regional Senior High School, built 20 handicapped-accessible picnic tables for the Rotary Miracle Sports Complex in Murrysville. He earned the Boy Scouts' highest honor upon completion of the project.

The idea for the municipality's complex blossomed in 2006 when the Murrysville-Export Rotary Club and other officials planned construction and began fundraising.

As the project developed, Hiler found out a pavilion would be constructed near a concession stand on the complex. He pitched his idea for picnic tables to the Rotary Club for its support.

“I thought it would be fantastic for him to do picnic tables for the park,” said Harold Hicks, Hiler's supervisor and president of the Miracle League of Western Pennsylvania.

“It shows that he has a heart and compassion for people he doesn't know,” he said. “He was willing to learn about their needs and special applications to make it happen.”Because the Rotary had spent about $1 million on the complex, Hiler was challenged to raise the necessary $4,000 for the picnic tables on his own. Once he secured funding, he transformed a maintenance garage at the field into his temporary picnic table factory. There, he, his family and members of Boy Scout Troop 208 worked in an assembly line to cut chunks of wood and fasten together the pieces.

In four days, the crew had built 20 picnic tables.

But they aren't any ordinary picnic tables.

Some do not have benches, while others have shorter benches to strategically allow wheelchairs to roll up to the table.

All were constructed with screws instead of nails, making it easier to maintain the picnic tables if boards come loose, he said.

It's those little details that Hiler takes so much pride in recognizing.“I just wanted them to last,” he said. “It felt pretty nice to know that I built it and they'll be using them for a long time.”

Amanda Dolasinski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6220 or

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