The Polar Express. Black Press file photo

Medically fragile children enjoy trip to North Pole on steam train

BOCC raises $10,000 to support critically ill children

By Emily Jaycox For the Independent

About 300 chronically-ill children, their families, and other community members from Central Alberta enjoyed a magical ride on the Polar Express in Stettler on Nov. 25.

The train ride was donated by Alberta Prairie Railway and the fundraising event was organized by Beads of Courage Canada (BOCC).

“(It was an) uplifting, magical, amazing opportunity for them to spend time with their family over the holiday season,” said Victoria Plouffe, executive director of BOCC.

“The children were certainly delighted,” she said, adding she saw a lot of smiles.

Seats not filled by BOCC members were given to less fortunate families, by invitation from local community organizations.

BOCC is a program that supports children who are undergoing medical treatment for serious illnesses such as cancer and Cystic Fibrosis.

The handmade, glass beads are a kind of narrative therapy.

Each different colour of bead represents a specific medical procedure, giving children a tangible way to “record, tell and own” their story.

RELATED: Stettler’s Prairie Steam Tours takes passengers back in time to the Wild West. Bandits hold up train looking for mine payroll

The Polar Express is a North Pole-themed experience based on the motion picture “The Polar Express.”

During the ride, the passengers are treated to hot chocolate, cookies, book reading and singing.

The train travels about 30 minutes outside of town and passes through an elaborate, lit-up North Pole scene where Santa boards the train.

On this ride, each person received two identical beads and a note to write an encouraging message or draw a picture to pass on to a sick child along with one of the beads.

Plouffe says it was a perfect way to begin the holiday season and bring in the spirit of Christmas.

Her favourite part of the event was seeing “all the families together and the younger children who truly believe.”

Back at the station, passengers received customized Christmas crackers with a bead inside, and a choir sang Christmas carols.

“We were endeavouring to give them a memory that would give them enjoyment,” said Don Gillespie of Alberta Prairie Railway.

“I think the kids got exactly what we intended.”

According to Plouffe, the BOCC raised $10,000 through anonymous corporate donations.

The money will be used to mail beads to those who may not receive them at a hospital and to fund three separate “Celebrations of Courage” leading up the Christmas.

The celebrations are part of the BOCC program and will be held at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary.

For more information about BOCC, visit

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

Send us news tips to:

Just Posted

Easter visit!

Easter Bunny makes a visit to Points West Living

Scenes from the Stettler & District Music Festival

Don’t forget to check out the Grand Concert on April 28th

Happy Easter everyone!

Youngsters are excited for the holiday

UCP candidate Nate Horner triumphs in Drumheller-Stettler riding

Horner looking forward to moving ahead with UCP policies in the coming months

Kenney talks pipelines with Trudeau after election win, calls it cordial

Almost a year ago Kenney dismissed Trudeau as a dilettante and a lightweight

‘No answers:’ Canadians react to Sri Lanka bombings that killed hundreds

The co-ordinated bomb attacks killed at least 207 people and injured 450 more on Easter Sunday

Person airlifted to hospital after avalanche in Yoho National Park has died

The man was among a party of three involved in an avalanche Saturday afternoon

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

Parents say Austrian climber missing in Banff National Park ‘lived his dream’

David Lama, Hansjorg Auer and American climber Jess Roskelley have been missing since Wednesday

Six months after legalization, high prices and supply issues boost illicit pot market

It has been six months since Canada became the first industrialized country to legalize recreational cannabis

Kirkland Signature veggie burgers recalled due to possible metal fragments

Recalled products came in 1.7 kg packages with a best before date of Apr. 23, 2019

Flooding, climate change force Quebecers to rethink relationship with water

Compensation for victims of recurring floods limit to 50% of a home’s value, or a maximum of $100,000

Storms blast South, where tornadoes threaten several states

9.7 million people in the Carolinas and Virginia at a moderate risk of severe weather

Most Read