BNSF's Holiday Express for military families
A very special train ride took place in Springfield, and this time Santa was not the guest of honor. This is the 10th year for the BNSF's Holiday Express Train.
"We very much appreciate the sacrifices that veterans and their families in particular make to keep our nation free," Roger Nober, Executive vice president for BNSF Railway told us.
The train ride carried 330 military family members. After the hopped aboard the BNSF for a 45 minute ride around the city, they got to enjoy some time together and holiday treats.
Armida Hoffman is 8 years old and her dad is in Missouri National guard, she got off the train with a smile and said, "the train ride was really great today, it was really fun how we got to have hot chocolate and cookies."
Over the past 10 years, the holiday train has covered about 30,000 miles and been to 47 different cities. But this isn't an annual event in cities like Springfield. The last time it stopped here was back here in 2014. "We've pored a lot of hot chocolate. And we pouted a lot today," Nober said. "So, I don't even know if we count how much hot chocolate we've been through by today."
But these rides aren't just about the snacks. One of the passengers on this ride was John Martin. Martin is an Army lieutenant colonel and says, "This energizes the family, which intern energizes service members and that makes us want to serve more. So, it helps spark an interest and keeps us motivated."
During his time in the Army, Martin has spent time in Iowa, Missouri, Iraq and Afghanistan. The told us, "During both of those deployments, missed out of a year's worth of birthdays and Christmas and Thanksgiving." Which make events like this extra special. He went on to say, "We take advantage of every change to be at home to spend time with our families and that's very precious."
At each stop, BNSF donates to an organization that will benefit military families. At this stop, they chose to give $10,000 to Missouri National Guard foundation.
Martin gets to spend this holiday season at home, but had this piece of advice for anyone spending time apart from a loved one, "I would just say this: don't ever forget that somebody loves you and cares about you whether you're there or not because you're always on our hearts."