Tonight we were supposed to have ridden the Polar Express. Sadly our son had other plans. You see he is autistic. He...Posted by Lloyd Angie Swartout on Thursday, November 14, 2019
When Angie, her husband, and their son Ty went to the Grand Canyon to ride the Polar Express — a dream of Ty's — things didn't go the way they'd hoped. Ty has autism, and when the train pulled up, he became overwhelmed and made it clear he wouldn't be boarding. The parents tried everything they could, but eventually the family went back to their hotel room feeling defeated and at a loss.
Angie shared personal details about the emotional story on Facebook. "[Ty] was so excited that he became overwhelmed and had an atomic size meltdown," she wrote. "He beat me and his dad up pretty badly." Then she noted how a stranger stepped in to help. "A wonderful woman helped us by holding our stuff while we tried to keep Ty from smashing his head on the bricks. The staff of the Grand Canyon Railway tried so hard to help. They even held the train. Finally, I had to say let's go back to the room. I cried all the way back. My heart was shattered. I wanted this so badly for my son. He loves trains and he loves the Polar Express. This was a dream come true. But it didn't happen."
But the story doesn't end there. Not by a long shot. Not only did the train conductor show up at their hotel room to meet Ty, but he came with a special surprise. And from there, the story only gets more magical.
We got to our room and I went into the bathroom and silently cried. My heart ached. Then there was a knock on the door calling out "maintenance!". My husband answered the door and slipped outside. He came in and said, " They said they would like to do something ". I stepped out and there was one of the gentlemen that tried to help us and a police officer. They said that they felt horrible about what happened and wanted to know if they could do something special for our family. I started crying again and asked if I could hug them. The poor policeman looked terrified but I didn't care I hugged anyway sobbing thank you over and over again. I ran into the room and tried to get our son up but he refused so my husband said he would go tell them.
While they were gone I curled up next to my son and read him his favorite book The Polar Express. I had just finished when my husband came back in and he said that there was someone special that wanted to visit. Ty and I shook our head yes and in walks the train conductor. He sat next to Ty's bed and chatted with him. Ty was star struck. He was so excited and happy. Then the conductor gave Ty his pocket watch!
After the conductor left my husband told me that the hotel and railway offered to reschedule our visit special accommodations! They said that they want everyone to experience something special and magical.
They succeeded. We may not have gotten to ride a train but we got something even more magical.....We got the gift of human kindness!
Thank you to the woman that stayed with us and helped. Thank you to the entire staff at the Grand Canyon Railway and Hotel. You have truly made a difference in our lives.
Please share this so everyone knows what an amazing place this is!!
**Update** The conductor came back and gave Ty a bell from the North Pole. He then whispered to us "Tomorrow stop by the station for a refund ". My goodness, this is a special place filled with amazing people!
**UPDATE 11/17/19****The conductor reached out to us today and said that the Grand Canyon Railway wanted us to come back! They are giving us dinner, a hotel room, train tickets, and breakfast all on them! To top everything off The Conductor will be having dinner with us and take Ty on a tour!!! They want Ty to experience his dream of riding the Polar Express!!
My heart is so happy. I can't thank the Grand Canyon Railway, the Conductor, and the entire staff enough!
We have never experienced a company that cares so much.
Spread the word to the world Williams, AZ and the Grand Canyon Railway/ Polar Express is the world's most magical place that is filled with the most magical people!
While the experience certainly didn't play out the way Angie and her family had planned, it peaked with such a touching ending that it's something they'll get to cherish and remember forever.