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Local train park makes autistic child's wish happen

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  • Local train park makes autistic child's wish happen

    This is the off topic area---and I'm going off topic.
    My hubby and I are members of our local 100% volunteer and model railroad train park (AMRS), which survives on donations and charges nothing to the visiting public.
    My part is mostly making wood stuff for them, baking thousands of cookies at Christmas for their "Starlight" event, maintaining their website, dispersing emails to the appropriate people, and spear-heading some projects (I don't run trains).
    Our park was virtually closed this year due to Covid, and all events for the rest of the year cancelled too.
    We've spent the year doing major maintenance projects and the guys have just recently started running some trains again.
    In September I fielded an email from someone who only lives 3/4 of a mile from the train park, and that email snow-balled into something that could've been a failure but turned out pretty darn good.
    I'd like to share our happiness with you....here's what transpired (this email was sent to the train park membership after the "event"):

    On Friday morning, October 2nd, AMRS closed the building to members and hosted a very "special needs" train lover and his family. A ten year old severely autistic boy with other complicated issues had come with his family to Starlight for a few years, but they were unable to coax this kiddo out of the car. Autistic kiddos shut down and withdraw if pushed into unfamiliar territory and don't usually handle crowds well. This family would just sit in the car and look at the lights and stare at the trains from the driveway and parking lot, letting him take it in from a distance. His mother reached out to us about Starlight this year, explaining the situation---but we knew it's being cancelled. Being community focused, we offered up a possibility for an even more successful venture to give this boy a chance at seeing the trains close up but without a crowd. He'd had a Thomas the Train set when he was little. In September he received a big-boy train set for his birthday, but the train park was still beckoning. There seemed no better time than now. On Friday their entire family got involved, making it a field trip Friday (missing school and work). This boy, his older sister, big brother, mom and dad all came to AMRS and magic happened. At the entrance from our parking lot was our Thomas the Train table greeting him with familiarity of a train set he had at home when he was younger. Inside the open door of our building were just 2 of our senior members running N and HO trains, and outside a G scale (garden train) on our elevated layout. No loud noises or voices were used, just the calm tell-tale lull of the trains running and drawing this boy into our train world. This child was enthralled and his family enjoyed the visit too. The dad took video of the layouts with the trains running and said his son would probably sit and watch them over and over for the rest of the day. In addition to his visit, AMRS also gave to him a couple of suitable books and O scale division provided a brand new Christmas car for his new train at home (as another souvenir gift). The entire family enjoyed themselves and will be telling everyone what a great place this is. The spirit of Starlight came early this year. Thank you everyone!!


    Thank you for letting me share what brought happiness to many people and that awesome rewarding feeling you can't help but get.
    Linda at www.ArtIngrained.com

  • #2
    Awesome all around, my son loved his trains when he was little. Loved to see the trains wherever we went,Glad you all do the work you do and to give this special treat to this young man and his family.
    Melanie from East TN

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    • #3
      Thanks Linda for the touching story. Thanks also for the work put into the event. We have a close family in MN who has an autistic boy, actually young man now. He is also enthralled by trains. What a joy.
      Denny
      ArtCrafters in Dayton, TN

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      • #4
        What your club has done for this young man is exceptional.! Especially during this time of Covid and restricted access. Had I been one of the club members present I would have been wearing not only my mask but bibs under my eyes.

        Coming from a family of Train lovers I can relate to that aspect of it. Multiple layouts in the family HO, N and O . My Dad was HO. I never had the space.
        We have a local County park that that a local live steamers club has tracks and they do events a few times a year.
        Rolf
        RBI G4 26 Hawk, EX 16 with Pegas clamps, Nova 1624 DVR XP
        Philosophy "I don't know that I can't, therefore I can"
        Proud Member of the Long Island Woodworkers Club
        And the Long Island Scrollsaw Association

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        • #5
          Even every boy loves trains and as you tell the story, I can see the magic.
          Thanks to all from far away for making a day special.
          Jim
          When looking at the clock at work--the correct time is:
          Too early to leave, too late to call in.

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          • #6
            What a heart warming event your group put on!! I have my father's original silver line train set from 1951, the first year they were in their house. It doesn't run because somebody, who shall remain nameless, sat on the engine while it was running and broke it. Trains run in our family. When my mother passed away, there was a display of flowers on an old B&O trivet. I spoke with the lady and told her my mother's brother retired from the B&O in the mid 80s but passed away many years ago so it felt like he was there. She told me this was the last of a collection and they had just found it after being packed for over 20 years!! What the world needs now is a little more kindness and compassion. Thank you Linda for helping to shine that light!
            Betty

            "Congress needs to realize it is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Not of the people, by the people and for Congress." - Dr. Benjamin Carson, Pediatric Neurosurgeon, Johns Hopkins Hospital

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            • #7
              Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter. Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

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              • #8
                Awesome story. Lot of work for a single person but it is an experience that will be with him all his life. Well done!
                "Time to Give Back"

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                • #9
                  What a great & special day for the young man!!! I sure he will remember it forever. Your group did an awesome good dead!!!! Thanks for sharing the story.
                  Website:
                  www.wix.com/tangowooddesign/home-page
                  ___________________

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                  • #10
                    Thank you all for letting me share a warm and fuzzy feeling of joy. I'm amazed at how many train guys work with wood, and vice-versa. Kinda cool actually. With all the Covid and politics and so many health problems we all needed a smile.....one that wasn't just a new tool twitch :-)
                    Linda at www.ArtIngrained.com

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                    • #11
                      A very touching story. My heartfelt thanks to all who made this possible.
                      I do not know how you find time to do all of this and your woodworking too. You are an amazing person in many ways.

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                      • #12
                        Linda, stories like this do put things into perspective. Thank you!
                        Rolf
                        RBI G4 26 Hawk, EX 16 with Pegas clamps, Nova 1624 DVR XP
                        Philosophy "I don't know that I can't, therefore I can"
                        Proud Member of the Long Island Woodworkers Club
                        And the Long Island Scrollsaw Association

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          And now you all know my 'big bad secret' of my spurts not being on the forum. Like you busy folks, I juggle my love of scrolling with other stuff. Outside of family, for the past 4 years I have been focusing a lot on helping the train park evolve from a club into an actual non-profit corporation. It's a lot of work, but some things (like this) provide the impetus to look outside the box and take joy in it. You folks do some neat stuff too and I've loved it when you all share. Great group.
                          Linda at www.ArtIngrained.com

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                          • #14
                            I retired after 41 years “playing” with trains lol. Can you show a couple of pictures of your club? An thanks for the post!

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                            • #15
                              Trackman---I bet you "played" with the real full size trains?! For hubby's last birthday I bought him 3 shares of Union Pacific RR stock at $151 per share. He was ecstatic owning part of a real railroad. Now that those same shares are sitting at $204 each, I'm even happier I chose that gift! Train park pics....definitely.

                              You do not have permission to view this gallery.
                              This gallery has 5 photos.
                              Linda at www.ArtIngrained.com

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