All Aboard the Piver’s Skunk Train!

Vern and Betty Piver at the 2011 Piver's Skunk Train fundraiser on June 26th.

The great things that can be accomplished by a small group of dedicated fundraisers never cease to amaze me. It’s especially heart-warming when something small blossoms into something that brings a community together. The Piver’s Skunk Train fundraiser is a great example.

Three years ago, Light The Night fundraisers Vern and Betty Piver were walking with some friends at the North Bay Light The Night Walk, when the idea for the Piver’s Skunk Train arose.

“We were talking about how we could raise more and Robert said ‘let’s get the train involved,’” said Vern. “It just took off from there.”

Close family friend, Robert Pinoli, owns the Skunk Train, a logging railroad built in 1885 to move redwood from the back country to Mendocino sawmills. The yellow “skunk” cars were aptly nicknamed for their original gas engines that could be smelt from afar. Today’s restored Skunk Train runs 40 miles through scenic redwood forest, transporting passengers back in time to another era.

What started as a whim became a resounding success that raised $21,000 for LLS in its first year! Robert donated a summer Sunday train ride for the event. With the help of friends and family, the Pivers coordinated the ticket sales, lunch and silent and live auctions with generous donations from the Fort Bragg community.

Just before this year’s event, Vern and Betty were thrown a curve ball; they learned that Vern’s lymphoma had returned. The news simply strengthened their resolve to fight blood cancer and the community rallied around them.

The second annual Piver’s Skunk Train event exceeded expectations and raised an incredible $35,000. More than 230 individuals from all over Northern California enjoyed the scenic train ride and barbeque lunch on June 26th from Fort Bragg to Northspur. Few passengers could resist the Italian-singing auctioneer who tempted them with everything from mini vacations to abalone dinners.

“This is a small community and times are tough for everyone. But we had people approaching us with auction items up until the week before the train ride,” said Betty. “The outpouring of support was simply amazing.”

Stories like the Piver’s fuel the fire for the important work we do.

Thank you Vern, Betty, Robert and the Fort Bragg community for nurturing and growing this wonderful fundraising event that clearly touches so many lives. We look forward to seeing you at the North Bay Light The Night Walk on October 15 in Santa Rosa!

Gather your friends and family and help us Light The Night this October! For more information about the North Bay, East Bay and San Francisco Light The Night Walks, visit

Plans for the third annual Piver’s Skunk Train are already underway. Look for it the last Sunday in June (after Father’s Day) 2012.


About Megan Kilkenny

LLS Sr. Director, Marketing Communication Team In Training Alum Three-time Nike Women's Half Marathon finisher
This entry was posted in Fundraising, Light The Night and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to All Aboard the Piver’s Skunk Train!

  1. I am very sad to share that Vern Piver recently lost his battle with lymphoma. Our thoughts are with the Piver family and friends at this time. He will be greatly missed.

  2. Earl Haas says:

    Vern was one year ahead of me in school and I shall always remember Vern as an individual that I admired both as a person and the best High School baseball player I had ever seen.

    I only saw Vern once since 1950 but I have thought of him many times over the years as a person that treated me as a peer and respect even though I was not up to his level of baseball play and from being a poor kid from Westport.

    My heart goes out to his wife and family.

    Earl Haas
    Lake Stevens,WA.

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