Train ride to 'North Pole' lets families forget challenges for a day

Transported by train, 100 families took a trip from Manatee County to the North Pole.

Mrs. Claus was there, along with a monster truck and a train ready for anyone to ride.

"Really it means quite a bit. A lot of times because there is just one parent working, we can’t necessarily provide so much for the kids," said Arthur Philipps.

Philipps and his family were able to enjoy every moment.

"They really make it so kids in wheelchairs as well as kids that might have other problems can participate, they don’t feel left out. They’re not on the side. Everything is catered to them," he said.

There's one word Brody Milligan would use to describe the day: "Amazing," he said.

Plenty of people, including his grandmother, agree.

"It’s just amazing the people that volunteer and get it all done for all these kids to have a happy Christmas, which is sometimes very hard for them," said Jodi Milligan.

At 9 years old, Brody has faced more than most adults ever will.

"He's already had open-heart surgery at 3 months. He had a stroke and a rare form of Cerebral Palsy. His mom has done an excellent job of getting him all the therapies and everything he’s needed to bring him to the point where he is at now," she said.

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That's why the Flight to the North Pole makes this day possible. The Manatee County Sheriff's Office charity works with the community to help families facing difficult medical diagnoses, some even terminal.

"Our goal is to make this a special day to focus on something other than the medical issues they are going through," said Sheriff Rick Wells.

A visit with Santa Claus brought smiles, and those smiles are memories the children and their families will carry with them.

"We want them to just enjoy this experience as much as possible and we are blessed to have the opportunity to do it," the sheriff added.