Teen with autism had a meltdown & missed his dream of seeing The Polar Express, so The Polar Express came to him

Teen with autism had a meltdown & missed his dream of seeing The Polar Express, so The Polar Express came to him

Boy with autism had a meltdown & missed his dream of seeing the Polar Express, so the Polar Express came to him.
Boy with autism had a meltdown & missed his dream of seeing the Polar Express, so the Polar Express came to him. Courtesy of Lloyd and Angie Swartout

By Logan Wamsley

Ty Swartout traveled to the Grand Canyon Railway & Hotel in Williams, Arizona with his family for one big, super important reason — to ride on the Polar Express.

But when the worst happened, the Polar Express decided to come to him, giving Ty and his parents a memory they won’t ever forget.

Ty has autism, and right before they were scheduled to board the Polar Express, his excitement got the best of him.

Boy with autism had a meltdown & missed his dream of seeing the Polar Express, so the Polar Express came to him.
Boy with autism had a meltdown & missed his dream of seeing the Polar Express, so the Polar Express came to him. Courtesy of Lloyd and Angie Swartout

“He was so excited that he became overwhelmed and had an atomic size meltdown,” said his mom Angie in a Facebook post.

“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.”

The entire family was devastated. “I cried all the way back,” said Angie.

“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 then, seemingly straight from the pages of a storybook, a little Majic began to take shape.

Boy with autism had a meltdown & missed his dream of seeing the Polar Express, so the Polar Express came to him.
Boy with autism had a meltdown & missed his dream of seeing the Polar Express, so the Polar Express came to him. Courtesy of Lloyd and Angie Swartout

“There was a knock on the door calling out “’maintenance!’” said Angie.

“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.”

Once they left, Angie spent the time reading Ty his favorite book, which is, of course, The Polar Express.

Boy with autism had a meltdown & missed his dream of seeing the Polar Express, so the Polar Express came to him.
Boy with autism had a meltdown & missed his dream of seeing the Polar Express, so the Polar Express came to him. Courtesy of Lloyd and Angie Swartout

They had just finished when, right off the pages, the Polar Express train conductor appeared at the door.

“He sat next to Ty’s bed and chatted with him,” said Angie.

Boy with autism had a meltdown & missed his dream of seeing the Polar Express, so the Polar Express came to him.
Boy with autism had a meltdown & missed his dream of seeing the Polar Express, so the Polar Express came to him. Courtesy of Lloyd and Angie Swartout

“Ty was star struck. He was so excited and happy. Then the conductor gave Ty his pocket watch!”

On a second visit, the conductor also gave Ty a bell straight from the North Pole.

Boy with autism had a meltdown & missed his dream of seeing the Polar Express, so the Polar Express came to him.
Boy with autism had a meltdown & missed his dream of seeing the Polar Express, so the Polar Express came to him. Courtesy of Lloyd and Angie Swartout

Ty wasn’t the only person to get a special gift. The hotel offered to reschedule their visit with special accommodations including dinner, a hotel room, tickets, and breakfast. And, as a special treat, the conductor will have dinner with them and take Ty on a special tour.

“We may not have gotten to ride a train,” said Angie, but we got something even more magical. We got the gift of human kindness!”

It may only be November, but Ty’s wonderful surprise proves that it’s never too early for a little holiday spirit — and the world is all the better for it.

“My heart is so happy,” said Angie. “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.”


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