For seven-year-old Eli, there is nothing more mesmerizing than the rumble of a train moving along a track. These massive machines, which can scale mountains, cross canyons and soar above rivers, seem undaunted by even the most extreme task.
Eli battles leukemia and has navigated his fair share of rugged terrain. When asked about his fascination with trains by the Cincinnati Enquirer, Eli said, “I like them because they’re big and powerful."
Eli may not have the strength of a locomotive, but his positive outlook and love of life are unstoppable. Despite the setbacks his condition has caused, Eli continues to persevere, moving full steam ahead every day.
Eli’s love for trains began at the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, where his mother brought him to see the Duke Energy Holiday Trains. Eli marveled at the display and wondered what it would be like to travel on a real locomotive. After seeing an IMAX movie called “Rocky Mountain Express” at the Museum Center, Eli was hooked.
When he learned that his wish to go on the Rocky Mountaineer train through Canada would be granted by Make-A-Wish®, Eli couldn’t wait for the trip to begin. He told wish granters that he was most excited about taking pictures of the mountains and animals, specifically “a bald eagle and maybe a few bears.”
Soon enough, the time arrived for Eli’s train adventure. He and his family jetted off to Vancouver, where they began their trip by visiting the Vancouver Lookout for a 360 degree view of the city.
All Aboard! The next day, the moment Eli had been waiting for became a reality. He and his family boarded the Rocky Mountaineer and took their seats. As the enormous blue train chugged along the train track, Eli looked out the window at the beautiful scenery, enjoying every second of his wish experience.
The magic did not stop there. Just like train conductors, Eli’s wish granters lead the family on an unforgettable week-long journey through the Canadian landscape.
Eli and his family rode on a huge gondola and explored a glacier in the alpine town of Banff, relaxed by Lake Louise at the foot of the Rocky Mountains and saw famous landmarks in the City of Calgary.
The trip turned out to be even better than Eli had imagined. He got to experience a real-life version of the display models he had come to love at the museum, but also made memories with his family that will last a lifetime.
The Hillman Group in Cincinnati, OH raised funds for Make-A-Wish in honor of Eli’s wish.