Oliver, a 6-year-old fighting a brain tumor, wished to be a train. An unusual wish for sure, the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted the next best thing, an opportunity to "drive" a train in 2003.
Working with METRA officials, the Make-A-Wish Foundation planned a wonderful day for Ollie has he got to see the engine compartment and enjoy a train car specially decorated for him. The conductors announced the "Ollie Express" as the train made it's way to Oliver's hometown of Downers Grove.
When the train stopped, dozens of people were on the platform to greet Ollie. Everyone began clapping, some crying, as the doors opened and Oliver descended upon the platform. Many other supporters - Make-A-Wish volunteers and friends and relatives of Oliver - streamed out of the decorated car and into Main Street Station in Downers Grove, where everyone came together to celebrate Oliver's day.
Inside the station, the party got underway as Oliver's classmates dined on pizzas donated by local restaurants and a cake shaped like a locomotive. METRA handed out goody bags to all of the kids and a very special one to Oliver that included his own official METRA Engineer's cap and nametag. All watched as Oliver opened many of his train-themed gifts and everyone, including Oliver, was overwhelmed by the spirit of generosity in the room.
About a year later, Ollie succumbed to his illness. About that time, it was publicized that METRA was receiving new locomotives, and that sparked an idea with staff at the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
In 2005, one of METRA's newest locomotives, Engine No. 401, was named in honor of young Oliver "Ollie" Tibbles. The engine was revealed at Chicago's Union Station during Wish Ball, touching the hearts of the nearly 1,000 guests and everyone who had a hand in bringing Ollie's original dream to life.
Days later the locomotive made its first voyage through Ollie's hometown of Downers Grove when it began service on METRA's Burlington Northern Santa Fe commuter line. Ollie's courage and quiet strength inspired many people, and by honoring him this way, the Make-A-Wish Foundation was able to grant the true essence of Oliver's original wish.
Granting the wish of this special little boy greatly enriched the lives of everyone involved. Every day, the Oliver "Ollie" Tibbles train carries commuters to and from Chicago, bringing a smile to everyone who learns about this special little boy. His wish inspired many people to become a part of the Make-A-Wish family so that other children could experience the hope, strength and joy brought to Ollie.
More than 10,000 children have been granted a wish by Make-A-Wish Illinois.