From watching his favorite movie, “The Polar Express,” to building train models with his dad, wish kid Tyler loves anything to do with locomotives. All his troubles seem to melt away when he’s building a model or playing with a train set.
Tyler is battling a life-threatening genetic disorder that causes premature aging and problems with his internal organs, but he has never let his illness get him off track. During tough times, Tyler’s love of building model trains with his dad has often lifted his spirits and encouraged him to keep fighting. When asked what his one true wish would be, the answer was easy: Tyler wished to have his own train hobby room.
When wish granters visited Tyler, he explained in detail his elaborate vision. He asked to have a hobby desk for building models and a dream train set. He wanted colorful train cars, a huge train track with tunnels and turns, and lots of buildings and trees. Most of all, though, he wanted to include his family in his perfect room. He requested a city named for his brother Spencer, who is also a wish kid, and a valley and a lake named for his sisters Lilly and Vivian.
Tyler’s dream track took five volunteers and approximately 160 hours to build. Make-A-Wish Systems Administrator Robert Peacock was one of those dedicated volunteers, and the majority of the work was completed in his garage.
On the day of Tyler’s wish reveal, Make-A-Wish sent him and his family to a train convention in Indianapolis. While the family was gone, Robert and the rest of the wish volunteer team got to work moving the structure into Tyler’s basement, where the new train hobby room was located, and adding last minute touches.
When Tyler arrived home for the big reveal, he was met by all of his friends and family. As he walked into his new train room, his mouth fell open in amazement.
“It’s all mine,” he said.
Tyler’s train room exceeded his highest expectations. It featured a multilevel, 24-foot train play set, surrounded by hundreds of cars, trees, buildings and people. It also included the lake, valley and city named for his siblings, and a station named after Tyler. There was even a mini version of Tyler’s own home.
After pausing for a moment to take it all in, Tyler grabbed a controller and went to work running the trains like a real conductor.
“I think everyone in the room could have disappeared and his family gone to bed and he would still be at the controls,” said Robert.
Since the reveal, Tyler has been hard at work perfecting his train structure and building new models at his hobby desk with his dad. He also loves driving the trains and watching them zip around his little city.
For Robert, knowing how much happiness the wish is bringing to others makes all the hard work worth it. “Granting Tyler’s wish was a special experience for me,” he said. “His wish was not just for himself, but for his whole family.”
The wish will provide Tyler and his family a special way to built memories for years to come, one train model piece at a time.