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Wish Wednesday - Working on the Railroad

From old-fashioned steam engines to modern electric rails, trains have captured the public’s imagination for centuries. But when a kid’s greatest wish is to conduct a locomotive, we take notice. This week, here are the stories of three wish kids who wanted to get a little closer to the rails, and discovered in themselves an adventurer.
Who remembers Charlie, the 12-year-old from California with a passion for transportation? His wish took him all the way to Chicago, a transportation mecca, to see trains, planes and automobiles. The journey began with a ride on the elevated train winding through the Windy City. It delivered him to Chicago Midway International Airport, where he spent the day learning the ropes of air travel. Clad in an orange safety vest, Charlie rode over the tarmac in a pushback tug, toured a cockpit and checked out an air traffic Trains, planes and automobilescontrol tower. Before the day was over, he got to ride in a fire truck and catch an aerial view of the city from his seat in a helicopter. This trip was all skyscrapers and speed, and it surely made Charlie a world-class traveler. 

In southern Pennsylvania, a chugging steam engine rolled along the tracks, carrying some unusual cargo: 5-year-old Liam and his wish to have a train-themed birthday party. When he was only 3 years old, Liam was diagnosed with Wilms tumor. The next two years brought a lot of treatment and worry. But as Liam and his family barreled down the rails, they left thoughts of his illness behind them. That day was all about celebrating – both Liam’s fifth birthday and his triumph over cancer. After living his train-themed wish, Liam was filled with thoughts of the future.

And this week, we’re hearing about Jonathan, who is capturing a lot of media attention with his uncommon wish to conduct a train through Donner Pass. This 8-year-old is a true train enthusiast, and his love for locomotives has helped him deal with a major heart defect. He got to live his ultimate wish last week when he boarded Amtrak’s California Zephyr. And this time, he wasn’t just a passenger. Jonathan’s wish experience included a police escort, a crowd of supporters and his own turn as a locomotive engineer. “Trains have gotten him through a lot,” Jonathan’s mom, Dee Dee, told Amtrak. “After every surgery we take a photo and a train is in every picture. We have more surgeries ahead of us, but now we have memories and relationships to help us over the next hill.”

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Wish Nation gives you a behind-the-scenes look at Make-A-Wish®. See how wishes come together and how they change lives forever. Hear directly from those who work or volunteer here, or those who have been transformed by a wish. And learn why we are so committed to someday granting the wish of every eligible child, every year.

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