Nine-year-old Robert Powell of Little Rock Cut the Ribbon for the 30th Anniversary Exhibit Smiling and Standing Strong on Prosthetic Legs He Received This Year
DALLAS December 11, 2017 – Ronald McDonald House of Dallas (RMHD) announced Robert Powell as the Kid Conductor for this year’s The Trains at NorthPark, presented by Bank of Texas, open now through January 7, 2018. Powell, a nine-year-old double amputee from Little Rock, gladly accepted the honor, which included cutting the ribbon for the 30th Anniversary exhibit alongside Ronald McDonald on prostheses he received just last April.
Raised in a Chinese orphanage until 2015, Robert was adopted by Art and Jen Powell who have four biological and six adopted children. Robert was born with Arthrogryposis, which affects every joint in his body with severe contractures. A year after his adoption, the Powell family sought the specialists at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, who deemed Robert an excellent candidate for prosthesis. Both of his legs were amputated in January, and he received his first set of prostheses in April. Throughout his multiple surgeries, Robert and his family stayed at RMHD, finding both comfort and community.
“We will never forget the day our son begged his physical therapist to take his new legs back to show his Ronald McDonald House of Dallas family how he could walk,” said Jen Powell. “Sure enough, our boy walked from the entry into the lobby with a huge crowd of staff and volunteers cheering every step of victory. Being able to stay at the House has meant so much to our family. It has eased financial burdens we could not have possibly shouldered, and it has allowed us to stay connected with each of our children as they take turns to visit.”
Robert’s younger sister Bethany, who was born with Williams Syndrome, also stayed at RMHD this year while visiting specialists at Children’s Medical Center of Dallas.
“We were thrilled to recognize this incredible young man as our 30th Kid Conductor,” added Jill Cumnock. “We call our House ‘the House That Love Built’, but the Powells have taken that label to a new level with their family, not only accepting the added responsibility of adopting children, but also taking on the challenges that come with adopting children with special needs. Robert and his family exemplify what The Trains at NorthPark is all about – they are just one of the 1,200 families we have the privilege of serving each year through the money raised by this little exhibit that could.”
The Trains at NorthPark features more than 750 railcars on a 1,600-foot elaborate configuration of tracks and scenes. Each year, the beloved holiday experience welcomes nearly 70,000, and has helped raise more than $13 million for RMHD since its original run in 1987. Featuring cityscapes like Dallas, New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, The Trains at NorthPark also includes New England’s fall foliage, the Grand Canyon, Garden of the Gods and Route 66. Thomas the Train and his friends also draw families to the charming exhibit, which has been seen by around two million people over its 30-year run.
This year’s Honorary Chairs are Dr. Dale Fuller and his wife Jean Fuller. Dr. Fuller, a radiation oncologist, is a long-time supporter and founding board member of RMHD, which has provided a home-away-from-home for families of seriously ill or injured children since 1981. The 2017 co-chairs for The Trains at NorthPark are Hollee Hirzel and Bridget Miller.
Tickets for The Trains at NorthPark are $4 for children ages 2-12 and seniors over 65. Adults are $7, while children under 2 are admitted for free. The exhibit is closed on Christmas Day and closes early at 4 p.m. for both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. This year, The Trains at NorthPark is in a new location on the 2nd level of NorthPark Mall near Neiman Marcus.
Those interested in supporting The Trains at NorthPark through sponsorship, volunteering or purchasing a railcar can do so by visiting www.thetrainsatnorthpark.com or contacting Janie Robertson at email@example.com.
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ABOUT RONALD MCDONALD HOUSE OF DALLAS:
Established in 1981, Ronald McDonald House of Dallas has served as a home-away-from-home for more than 37,000 families of seriously ill children who have traveled to Dallas seeking medical treatment in area hospitals. By providing a caring, supportive, home-like environment, Ronald McDonald House of Dallas keeps the family intact and helps allow a family to establish a normal routine in the midst of crisis. It also provides families with the opportunity to share their concerns with other families in similar circumstances. For more information, please contact Ronald McDonald House of Dallas at 214.631.7354, or visit www.rmhdallas.org.