Operation North Pole Takes Children On A Fantasy Train Ride For The Holiday

Bob Roberts
December 15, 2018 - 2:27 pm

Rob Roberts/WBBM Newsradio

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DES PLAINES (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Dozens of police and fire sirens wailed through much of Rosemont and Des Plaines in the morning of Dec. 15 — but there was no emergency. The first responders were escorting ailing children and their families to a Metra ride with Santa called Operation North Pole

This is not a normal train ride. It is a holiday experience for children with life-threatening diseases and their families. The trip includes a weekend hotel stay in Rosemont for all 75 families, tea with Mrs. Clause and a visit with Santa Clause, unlimited chocolate from a chocolate factory, escorts on and off the holiday train and more holiday memories. The weekend getaway is paid for by Operation North Pole through a year-round fundraising campaign. 

Chris Goodwin brought her family from Dixon and her great niece, who has a chronic illness.

"This is something special for her and we were able to come with her," Goodwin said.

Her family said Chloe Phillips, Goodwin's great niece will be able to have fun and forget about her illness for the weekend. Phillips said the experience has been awesome so far.  

"This is going to stay with us a long time and it is going to encourage us to help other famlies as well, so they have have the same experience," Goodwin said.

Children from Champaign shared their excitement about riding the train for the first time, getting their mouths on lots of candy, Santa's visit and spending the weekend free of charge. That eliminates financial stress of having to provide for children who already require lots of spending for medical purposes.

"It's ONP's goal to provide these families an unforgettable experience amidst the very challenging times they face daily," said the organization's website

The nonprofit has been giving back to children and families in need since 2011, when 30 families boarded the first-ever fantasy train. Now, ONP has expanded, giving coats and warm attire to children in the Chicagoland in their Operation Warm efforts.