Childhood cancer patients ride the Polar Express

AKRON – More than 1,100 passengers, including children being treated at Akron Children’s Hospital, rode on the Polar Express Charity Run aboard the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Wednesday.

For young cancer patients, it was a needed break from treatments.

With golden tickets in hand, families boarded the train at the Northside Station in Akron for a trip to the North Pole.

Elves told the story of the Polar Express and distributed hot chocolate and other treats to kids from 13 the different organizations that were part of the event.

“We've been doing this for a little over 10 years now, and the Polar Express has been running for 24 years, so it's been a great tradition in the valley,” said Taylor Nickel, Communications Manager with the railroad.

Liam Young, who spent the summer being treated for leukemia, looked out the train window eagerly as it approached the North Pole in Peninsula.

“It's kind of nice for them for what they've went through,” his father, James Young, said. “He's doing real good; it's in remission.”

Elves waved to greet the train in the North Pole, where Santa came aboard to listen to wish lists and bring cheer to families.

The Kirk family spent two past Christmases in the hospital while daughter Maryanne was treated for leukemia.

“So much of your times as a parent is spent on medication and taking care of them that you lose track of the real goal and what is really important,” mother Carol Kirk said. “And this is one opportunity we get to have fun with them.”