Maddio's continues holiday tradition, holds fundraiser for cancer patient
There is only one legitimate Brackenridge-based fundraiser for the family of a girl battling leukemia.
Sydney Brison, of Ford Cliff, is fighting a serious lung infection associated with the disease. The bright girl known for her always-ready smile is in a coma at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
She is so ill her parents, John and Angela, left their jobs to be at her bedside as much as possible, according to Matt Struhar, who owns Maddio's Pizza and Subs in Brackenridge.
So Struhar is using his pizza shop's annual charity fundraiser to benefit Sydney and her family. For an extra $10, all of which goes to the Brison family, Struhar will personally deliver pizzas dressed as Santa.
He's been doing it for four years, with a different beneficiary each year.
But this year, someone allegedly has tried to take advantage of that Christmas spirit.
A man wearing a Maddio's logo T-shirt — and identifying himself as Struhar — knocked on a West Tarentum door Wednesday night asking for money.
“It wasn't me,” Struhar said. “Fortunately, the West Tarentum people are my customers and they know me.
“They asked him for identification and he didn't have any. They then asked him to wait while they went for money — they were really going to grab a camera — but the man bolted off the porch,” Struhar said.
The family called police. Officers were talking with a man within the hour, Struhar said.
Tarentum police Chief Bill Vaculick confirmed police are talking with a possible suspect. No arrest had been made Thursday.
“We are asking that anyone who saw anything or anyone who was solicited in this way to call us immediately,” Vaculick said. “We need the public's help.”
Struhar was astonished and his Facebook page lit up with comments. But he won't let the incident dampen his fundraiser.
“This family needs our prayers and financial help,” Struhar said.
A Christmas tradition
Struhar said he bought his now-familiar Santa suit for $5.
“I knew then that I'd start a Christmas collection.”
He wears it during the weeks leading to Christmas when he, alone, delivers special pizzas.
Contributors pay the regular price for the pizza and add $10 for the Christmas family collection that continues through next Friday.
“Santa arrives to deliver the pizza, takes photos with the children and sings carols with them. All of the $10 goes to the annual collection.
“I'm booked heavy. People are so good and we have raised a lot of money — a lot of money — to help people in need during this special time of the year,” said Struhar.
People can also drop off money in a collection jar in Maddio's shop, at 1000 Broadview Blvd. in Brackenridge.
Maddio's also is collecting new blankets for Sydney and other kids at Children's Hospital. Those are being accepted through Monday at the pizza shop.
The Brisons could not be reached for comment.
Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.