‘Miracle Kids’ Get Ride of Their Lives on NS

The Norfolk Southern executive train gleams in the October sunlight as it boards passengers at the Cleveland Amtrak station. NS donated the train for use on October 16 for the “Miracle Express” to Toledo and back. (Photographs by Roger Durfee)

The Norfolk Southern executive train was in Northern Ohio on Saturday, October 16 for the “Miracle Express,” which operated from Cleveland to Toledo and return.

The train trip was  run for the Children’s Miracle Network http://www.childrensmiraclenetwork.org/ and organized by one of our local engineers, Bud Ramkey. The train and management were donated by Norfolk Southern. Use of the Cleveland station was donated by Amtrak

The train was staffed by volunteer NS employees, Bowling Green State University, and others. I volunteered to take photographs and just help out in general.

Our day started early at Rockport yard where our train, 4 F units and seven cars off the NS OCS train were stocked with snacks and drinks by the volunteers.

NS employees at Rockport put the finishing touches on the equipment, such as topping off the fuel and water tanks on the units and cars. Once the train was ready to go we pulled west from Rockport, then backed down to the Amtrak station to load the passengers.

Amtrak provided a wheelchair lift for several of the children who needed one to enter their car. Once everyone was on board, the train departed west for Toledo on the advertised at 12:45 p.m.

As we traveled westward, a band played in the lower level of the dome car and also visited each car and played a few songs for the kids who were not able to travel between the cars.

A magician also visited each car as did the CMN duck mascot and the BGSU falcon mascot. It was a smooth and fast trip to Toledo, and we often ran over 70 mph.

Once in Toledo the train headed north on the east leg of the Detroit Line wye, then backed west to turn the train on the west leg. The return to Cleveland allowed for second views of such interesting highlights as the Sandusky Bay bridge and causeway.

As I made my way through the train several times, it was evident the children were having the time of their lives as were many of us adults too! The smiles told me the effort was worth it.

It was a fun day, although bittersweet at times because a few of the kids aboard are fighting terminal illnesses.

Once back at the station in Cleveland, it was time to unload the passengers, clean up the train, and call it a day.

Another crew would return the train to Rockport, add more OCS cars, and it would depart that night for Bellevue then points south and east.

A very big thank you goes out to Norfolk Southern and its employees, Amtrak, and a host of other behind-the-scenes volunteers who made this such a great day for a lot of children.

Roger Durfee

Two kids get to spend quality time with their father as the train rolls along.

The smile on this little girl’s face as she was carried from the train when the trip was done said it all.

Everyone was having a good time inside car No. 23, which is the theater car on the rear.

And the band played on, and on, and on inside car No. 24, the full-width dome.

One of the two Bowling Green State University Falcon mascots was aboard and posing for photographs.

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3 Responses to “‘Miracle Kids’ Get Ride of Their Lives on NS”

  1. donna schaser Says:

    The beginning of a love affair with NS and the wonderfully, special kids and families.

  2. Kyle Montgomery Says:

    Hi, I’m a member of Buckeyethon, an Ohio State organization which last year raised over $100,000 for Children’s Miracle Network.

    I also run a small railroad blog, Ohio Valley Railroads. I was wondering if I could use some of your photos for my site in an attempt to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network. They explain the cause much better than my words, and the railroad relationship is a great bonus.

    My site’s viewership is pretty small, but I think it is worth the effort to try. Thank you.

  3. J Roycroft Says:

    Great blog and a wonderful thing you are doing for the children

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