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Train Ride Is Good Medicine For Special Boy

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Monroe Journal - Train Ride Is Good Medicine For Special Boy

Monroe Journal Newspaper Article
Written by Colleen Conger | Photo by Colleen Conger
Originally published in print April 4, 2012
Published online (Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal) April 5, 2012

AMORY, MS – Five year old Karson Stegall of New Albany proclaims, “All Aboard!” as he boards Engine 102 at the Mississippian Railway Cooperative train yard. This magical moment was the fulfillment of a very special promise his great grandmother, Janie Roberts, made to him while he was recovering from an injuries stemming from an accidental gun shot to the head. “I promised him when he got well, we would take a train ride.”

“I received an e-mail from Janie asking me if a train really runs at the Railroad Festival or at any other time,” says Bo Miller, chairman of the Amory Railroad Festival and director of the Amory Regional Museum. “We don’t offer train rides at the Festival,” Bo told Janie, but when he heard Karson’s remarkable story, Bo knew he had to make this little boy’s wish come true in a great big way. “I knew I just had to do whatever I could to make this happen for this special little boy,” Bo recalled. He called Buddy Carlisle with the Mississippian Railway Cooperative to arrange the train ride, and the stage was set for an experience that Karson would cherish for the rest of his life.

When Karson walked into the Amory Regional Museum and asked, “I want to see the trains,” no one would have ever imagined that an accidental gun shot to the head just six short months ago would lead doctors at Le Bonheur’s Children’s Hospital to the conclusion that Karson would never walk or talk ever again. Karson’s mother, Mallory Trenham, just smiled and gazed at her son. “Three weeks after the accident, he was walking. A couple of weeks after that, he started talking. Karson is progressing far beyond the expectations of all his doctors.”

At the museum, Bo presented Karson a lime green 34th Annual Amory Railroad Festival t-shirt. “Green is my favorite color,” he tells Bo. Bo then tells him that he was going to get to ride a “real train”. Karson’s face lights up, he immediately stops what he’s doing, and exclaims, “Woo Hoo. I get to ride a train!” At the train yard, Mallory says “The ride was a complete surprise. He thought we were just coming to Amory to see the model trains at the museum.” Every time the train whistle would blow, Karson’s eyes grew bigger and bigger. Even the hustle and bustle of the local news crews getting interviews and taking pictures couldn’t take Karson’s focus away from his one and only goal, “I’m going to ride a train!”

Karson’s dad and great grandmother boarded the train and as Karson waived goodbye, he blew imaginary kisses to the rest of his family members staying behind. During the 10 mile journey to Smithville, Karson got to see several wild turkeys and a couple of deer. He even got to share some of his gumdrops with the birds. The train swayed side to side as the mix of warm sunlight and fresh air eventually lulled Karson to sleep on Janie’s lap. Her eyes started to tear up as she recalled the promise she made to her great grandson. “He’s a miracle,” she says. “The doctors at this point are telling us he’ll make a full recovery.” The good Lord is the main doctor,” says Karson’s father, Matthew Stegall.

The train ride lasted about an hour. But for that precious hour, Karson Stegall was transported back to a time before his accident, before the hospitals, surgeries, rehab appointments, and doctor’s visits. A time where he was allowed to be a carefree and fun-loving 5 year old without a care in the world.

Colleen Conger

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